High Spec’ City – the rousing rebirth of Christchurch
By Jody Robb
Total Property - Issue 2 2016
Five years on from the gruelling earthquakes that shook the city to its core, Christchurch is emerging from the rubble as a low-rise glass and steel city – a world-class metropolis for its time.
The Greater Christchurch Regeneration Bill established Regenerate Christchurch - a 50/50 partnership between Christchurch City Council and The Crown – which will focus on master planning the CBD, residential ‘red zone’ and New Brighton.
Ōtākaro Limited is another new Crown company established to deliver key anchor projects and precincts like the Convention Centre, Avon River Precinct and East Frame inner city residential neighbourhood.
Working with them is Development Christchurch, a Council-controlled organisation concentrating on investment opportunities to support the long-term regeneration of central and wider Christchurch.
Peter Townsend, chief executive of Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce, says he doesn’t know anywhere else in the world where $45 billion is being tipped into a city of 460,000 people.
“Christchurch will be spending $100 million each week for the next three to four years,” he says.
Townsend says the rebuild allows for “a magnificent statement” to be made. “It’s a new Christchurch which commands high rental rates, where the High Street is very much back in town, and where first class office accommodation prevails.
“People may pay more to be in the CBD than before, but they have a smaller property footprint and are utilising space better.”
Townsend notes two major building trends – more resourceful open plan environments and a big switch to energy efficiency.
“Christchurch is the safest, most energy-efficient city in Australasia today,” he says.
Bill Dwyer, chair of Development Christchurch says the city will feature an outstanding environment in which to live, conduct business and visit.
“After a five-year period of recovery Christchurch has dusted itself off and has entered a 15-year period of regeneration.”
As an example, Development Christchurch has backed the Christchurch Adventure Park – a Port Hills venture to construct the largest mountain bike park in the southern hemisphere. It will include a chair lift, accommodation, café/bar and 120 kilometres of downhill mountain bike tracks.
Mayor Lianne Dalziel says the central city is shaping up to be a magnet for locals and visitors. “We’re waiting with bated breath for the Convention Centre project to get underway which will be the catalyst for the commercial development of the northern part of The Square,” she says.
“Christchurch will be a compact, vibrant city and an early adopter of technologies. Initiatives to lower energy costs are being widely used and I want Christchurch to be New Zealand’s first city with autonomous electric vehicles on its streets.”
Mayor Dalziel says the transition from a devastated CBD to an emerging new centre has allowed creative people to be very innovative and give life to vacant spaces. “That innovation will be forever embedded into the city’s DNA.”
“The creation of the three new entities charged with overseeing the city’s future is the step change we’ve been waiting for,” she says.
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