1100 civil servants to move into CBD

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 12:38 07/07/2014

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More than 1000 government staff will work in central Christchurch by 2016, dispelling the notion of a ''doughnut effect'' in the city, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee announced today.

Brownlee told a briefing in Christchurch that 1100 staff from 13 Government departments and agencies would work from three new privately owned commercial buildings, either in or on the edge of the Retail Precinct.

The precinct is south of Cathedral Square, bounded by High, Hereford and Lichfield streets and Oxford Tce.

Brownlee said the Government would spend $170 million on the leases for the three buildings for the next 20 years.

The buildings are:

- Grand Central (owned by Grand Central NZ Ltd). This will house the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Ministry of Social Development and Department of Conservation.

- Cashel Square Stage I (owned by Lichfield Holdings Ltd). This will house Statistics New Zealand, NZ Transport Agency, Department of Internal Affairs, Te Puni Kokiri, Commerce Commission, Human Rights Commission, Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, and Creative New Zealand.

- Cashel Square Stage II (owned by Lichfield Holdings Ltd). This will house Accident Compensation Corporation.

Inland Revenue already had 200 staff working in the Mid City Building above Ballantynes.

A fourth building had been earmarked in the Government's accommodation programme to provide space for the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Housing NZ Corporation, and Fairway Resolution, Brownlee said.

All four buildings will have space for private tenants, retail spaces and car parking.

Bank of New Zealand will also take up tenancy in the Cashel Square Stage II development, basing about 200 staff there.

Said Brownlee: "With the recent private sector announcements of the Vodafone Building, Triangle Centre and UniMed Building, among numerous others, I have every confidence the vision of a compact, cohesive and busy Christchurch CBD will soon come to fruition.

''This is a significant commitment to the city's prosperity.''

Brownlee said the move would provide confidence to private investors in the CBD, while the government workers would provide a boost for shops and eateries.

Colliers property firm had predicted that within three years, about 10,000 people will be working within 300 metres of Christchurch's Retail Precinct, rising to 15,000 within four years, he said.

State Services Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman said the Crown would reduce its leased buildings from 17 to four as part of the project.

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"This enables flexible working, with shared facilities and greater collaboration,'' Coleman said.

BNZ chief executive Anthony Healy said the bank looked forward to being a part of the central business community's ''exciting vision of a new Christchurch''.  

Last month, visiting housing consultant and architect, Michael Bilsborough, said Christchurch risked becoming a "doughnut city" with an empty hole in the middle if more was not done to encourage businesses and residents back into the city centre.

- The Press

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