Bidding opens for bars, shops, homes

ALAN WOOD
Last updated 14:40 22/11/2013
Bus interchange vision
Supplied

BUS INTERCHANGE: This is a concept drawing for a proposed new interchange, due to be complete by April 2015.

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Tens of thousands of square metres of retail, entertainment and accommodation space could be developed around the Christchurch bus interchange, according to a "request for expressions of interest" for the anchor rebuild project.

The city's main bus exchange was demolished as a result of the February 2011 earthquake. A new interchange is expected to be operational by mid-2015.

While there has been a temporary facility operating from Lichfield St, the new centralised facility is proposed for a 14,000 square metre block bounded by Tuam, Colombo and Lichfield streets and SOL Square.

The request for developers to show their interest in the project suggests 40,000 to 50,000 square metres of gross floor area could be set aside for commercial development outside and above the actual bus interchange area.

"This could include uses such as hotel and residential accommodation, retail and commercial, public car parking, food and beverage and entertainment and leisure activities," the request document says.

A cost-sharing announcement on the bus interchange, released in June, shows a $40 million contribution from Christchurch City Council and $51m from the Crown.

A spokesman for the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority confirmed the government agency wanted a significant commercial development in the area.

He noted the ground-level commercial footprint would be limited to about 4000sqm to 7000sqm across the site.

Further floor space could be developed at the above-ground levels, to add up to the 40,000 to 50,000 total, he said.

"It might be used for the likes of a hotel or retail ... we think that having that large area of commercial space might be a bit of a visitor attraction obviously." Additional buildings could be cantilevered or supported over the interchange space, where these may fit onto the site, the tender document added.

During the concept design phase of the anchor project, due to be completed in mid-December, the options for the commercial development would be further refined. A preferred solution would be developed for the interchange section of the wider precinct.

"Short-listed respondents will have the opportunity to participate in an outline master planning process for the preferred solution, including optimisation of the commercial opportunities available on the site," the document says.

It was desirable that commercial development within and above the interchange be done within the interchange build timetable. If that constraint could not be met a phased approach to construction is more likely.

This would mean the Crown led with the interchange construction and would be followed by private sector development of the commercial sections.

The developments should support an interchange that integrated with the surrounding spaces, especially to the east connecting with SOL Square, a previous entertainment precinct that was badly damaged by the quakes.

The document points to the bus interchange being operational by about April 2015.

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- Fairfax Media

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