The buildings at the Chinese settlement in Allens Road, Ashburton, are “stuffed” , Cr Neil Brown told the Ashburton council.
He said he had listened to people in the community and they were saying it would cost a huge amount of money to restore them as they were pretty well stuffed.
People were saying, he said, demolish the buildings and develop something else, perhaps a memorial to the Chinese settlers.
He said putting money into restoration – councillors were told early this year the bill could be big – might be a waste of money.
Cr Leen Braam, who chairs to sub-committee considering restoring the site, said he had heard similar sentiments and the matter could be be discussed at the next subcommittee meeting.
“I’m open-minded about where we are going with this,” Cr Braam said.
Last month the council agreed to urgent work being completed at the site to preserve the land and buildings.
Further funding was to be sought at a later date.
About $85,000 has been spent on an engineer’s report, the demolition of unsafe buildings, tidying up the area, and an asbestos identification and removal programme.
A heritage assessment has also been produced.
Council took stewardship of the 2.4ha site in 2013 following an agreement with descendants of the original owners.
In the agreement, the council committed to administer the land as if it were a reserve, restore the properties and preserve their heritage value, and erect a memorial at the site.