The purpose of this research is to examine the impact of the Christchurch earthquakes on building owners and tenants in an area of the CBD that was undergoing revitalisation and gentrification prior to the earthquakes. The methodology encompasses a comprehensive, long term case study of the area involving observation, interviews and document analysis. This paper reports preliminary findings based on observation of public meetings, newspaper reports and a small number of interviews. Findings include early commitment by owners and tenants to rebuild the area in the same style, but over time this has declined as delay, demolition, insurance problems, public safety and engineering concerns, political and planning changes and other emerging issues have made participation by the original owners and tenants impossible or uneconomic. It is early days in a long term rebuild process and this study focuses on only one area of the city, but it appears similar problems have arisen in other parts of the city and may well apply to other locations and other types of disasters. No other examples of such a complete and total interruption of a CBD revitalisation or gentrification process in a modern economy have yet been identified, but as the research progresses it will seek to uncover any such examples, should they exist, and draw comparisons. In any case this case study will represent a unique and important contribution as to what may happen in such circumstances.