How Christchurch’s hospitality scene got its groove back

How Christchurch’s hospitality scene got its groove back

Total Property - Issue 4 2017

Six years on from the earthquake that turned much of central Christchurch into rubble, the city is nearing the end point of its recovery.

Six years after Christchurch's central city bar and restaurant scene was crippled by an earthquake, the hospitality sector is back on its feet and flush with new opportunities.

Entrepreneurs and developers are seizing the chance afforded by the earthquake to create a world class city, complete with vibrant entertainment precincts.

New bars and restaurants have established themselves alongside old favourites and the central city is flush with opportunities, with several major office/retail/hospitality properties centred near and around the Avon River.

The energy and buzz within Christchurch’s hospitality sector can be seen in the revenue it generates and the number of new businesses it has created. Hospitality sales in Canterbury reached $1,140.4 million in 2016, a five percent rise on the year before (Auckland’s increase was 3.6 percent in comparison), and the sector employs more than 14,540 people, up 5.2 percent on 2015.

The number of hospitality businesses has already surpassed pre-earthquake levels, with Canterbury recording the largest growth in the number of hospitality businesses in New Zealand last year, up 4.5 percent on the year before to 1,878.

Hospitality is a key feature in the new developments emerging in the central cityCarter Group’s $140 million development of The Crossing offers 14,000m2 of hospitality and retail space on top of 5,000m2 of office space, and will feature dozens food and drink outlets.

At the heart of Tim Glasson's ANZ Centre, an $80 million, four-storey retail and office complex at Triangle Corner, is a striking atrium, which is home to two premium offerings by upmarket hospitality provider White Tie Catering.

The city’s most talked about hospitality offering is The Terrace, Antony Gough’s large-scale redevelopment of the city's former entertainment hub, The Strip, on Oxford Terrace. The $140 million project by the Avon is to feature premium restaurant and bars as well as offices.

Mr Gough says the hospitality part of this development is almost fully leased, and he expects the first stage to be open by the end of October. Tenants in the large ground-floor premises facing Oxford Terrace include Dux Central owner Richard Sinke, Stealth Hospitality Group and Bangalore Polo Club.

Other significant central city projects include:
• A new hospitality hub within the $50 million McKenzie and Willis development on the corner of Tuam and High streets, with A Mouse Called Bean, Caribe Latin Kitchen, Bacon Brothers and El Fogon Grill among the tenants;
• A reconstruction of the razed Billens building next door, which will house a mixture of retail, hospitality and office tenants;
• The revival of Christchurch's Poplar Lane hospitality area, with Auckland developers Studio D4 building a $18 million four-storey building at 150 Lichfield St with nine food and drink venues facing onto existing lanes;
• The Convention Centre, which features a 1,400-delegate auditorium, a 3,600m2 exhibition hall, 1,600m2 of meeting rooms, and ample provision for hospitality and retail outlets on the Colombo Street side of the development.

Chief executive of Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Peter Townsend says: “The whole of the central city is going somewhere new, and there is an exciting mix of restaurants, bars and hospitality offerings being planned. The rebuild has given Christchurch the ability to accelerate into new trends and new ways of doing things.”

Restaurant Association chief executive officer Marisa Bidois says the hospitality industry has played a leading role in growing Christchurch’s tourism economy.

“A large part of the tourist experience is tasting the local cuisine. With most visitors dining out twice a day during the duration of their stay, it's crucial the hospitality sector is able to offer not just quality but variety as well,” she says, adding that she has fielded inquiries from international operators seeking to establish outlets in Christchurch.

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