Christchurch's City Mall saw trappings of its past and future yesterday as its $14 million redevelopment was opened.
Mayor Bob Parker waved regally from a century-old horse-drawn tram that travelled along newly laid tracks through the revamped mall from Cashel St to High St.
Rides on the clydesdale-drawn tram will be offered for a gold coin donation until Christmas Eve.
It will be another 18 months before the first electric trams return to the mall area they last serviced in the early 1950s.
The council plans to spend $11.5m extending the inner-city tram route, with the first stage, to the corner of High and Tuam streets, to be finished before the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
The second stage, along High St and Ferry Rd to the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology, will be completed by the summer of 2013.
Parker said the redevelopment had injected new life into the heart of Christchurch and was part of many planned improvements to revitalise the city centre.
At the project's launch in August 2007, the council budget was $10.5m, but it spent another $2.5m laying tram foundations and rails and $900,000 to remove two airbridges and improve infrastructure.
Public and retailer feedback on the new-look mall had been positive, Parker said, and more people were going into the central city as a result of the project.
- © Fairfax NZ News