New shops and bankers move into Christchurch's Cashel St

Final touches go into the courtyard in the BNZ Centre.

Final touches go into the courtyard in the BNZ Centre.

Retailers are battling paperwork and earthquakes as they work to open their doors in central Christchurch's BNZ Centre.

A row of new shops facing Cashel St and interior laneways were due to open in the complex on Thursday morning, but delays could shift that to Friday. 

At the same time, last-minute touches are being made to the BNZ's top-floor headquarters, ready for 180 workers to start on Monday morning.

Workers lay pavers alongside the new complex.

Workers lay pavers alongside the new complex.

The openings mark the completion of the second and final stage of the $140 million BNZ Centre. The complex is in the next block from the ANZ Centre where tenants opened a fortnight ago.

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BNZ Centre landlord Nick Hunt said they hoped to get Certificates of Public Use from the city council on Thursday. That would allow the doors to open and public access to the complex's central courtyard and laneways.

An artist's impression of finished BNZ Centre in Christchurch retail precinct.

An artist's impression of finished BNZ Centre in Christchurch retail precinct.

Hunt also said materials needed to finish food kiosks for the courtyard had been delayed by earthquake-damaged roads.

"We've trying to find a lorry-worth of glass coming from up north. It's in the South Island somewhere," he said.

Workers this week have been adding finishing touches to the complex's shopfronts, paving the internal courtyard, and removing barrier fencing.

An artist's impression of the finished public courtyard.

An artist's impression of the finished public courtyard.

Pharmacist Annabel Parrant spent Wednesday getting her new business, Unichem Pharmacy and PostShop, ready to open with 12 staff. She aimed to open on Thursday if possible.

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The recent earthquakes had held up delivery of photo processing equipment from Auckland, but they would open regardless, she said.                                     

"It's very exciting, there's a real buzz along here," she said.

Expecting to open on Friday were jewellery stores Pandora and Michael Hill, and gift store Simply New Zealand.

Simon Thwaites, Pandora's Christchurch franchisee, said they were proud to be among the first retailers to open in the rebuilt Cashel St.

Fashion store Death by Denim and variety store Loose Change are also set to open. 

Other stores in the complex will include juice bar Tank, telecommunications company Spark, and national fashion chain Repertoire. 

The BNZ bank's ground floor customer branch will open in March.

Upstairs office tenants ACC and law firm Cavell Leitch will also move in early next year.

The food kiosks are due to open over the summer, selling items such as ice cream and sushi.

For the BNZ office staff, the move will be their first time working back in the central city since they evacuated the old BNZ House in the February 2011 earthquake.

BNZ chief executive Anthony Healy said Monday's move would fulfil a promise to customers that they would return.

He described their new offices as "magnificent" and said they had purchased new artworks and used timber salvaged from the earthquakes for their top-floor business centre in the complex.

An official ceremony to open the new building will be held next week.

 - Stuff


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