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City plan puts bar expansion on hold

City plan puts Bicycle Thief expansion on hold

MICHAEL WRIGHT
Last updated 13:50 02/08/2012
Bicycle Thief
STACY SQUIRES/Fairfax NZ

UNCERTAIN: Expansion plans for the Bicycle Thief bar have been put on hold after the release of the central-city recovery plan.

Richard Middleton
STACY SQUIRES/Fairfax NZ
Richard Middleton.

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Richard Middleton planned to expand his central-city bar, but the Government's recovery plan has left it ''on the edge of nothing''.

The Bicycle Thief, on the western side of Latimer Square, was due to reopen next March, but the site falls within the eastern ''frame'' of the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan where the Government plans to buy most of the land and keep it open.

By doing so it hopes to drive development to the middle of town, but Middleton cannot see the sense in abandoning the land.

''I love this space. It's about this area,'' he said.

''There needs to be activity and buzz. That's how our business works.''

Middleton's renovation plans are on hold as the property, which he leases, will probably be acquired by the Government.

''I couldn't but help but see my space gone,'' he said of the plan.

''We're on the edge of nothing.''

He had obtained consent for an outdoor area fronting Latimer Square and spent about $200,000 on top of an insurance payout to expand and renovate the interior.

Plans had been drawn and a project manager appointed.

''This whole fitout gets taken out,'' Middleton said.

''We were making the bar better and bigger but still dark and cocoony. This whole thing is going to lose its character [and] you're not going to replicate that with a glass box.''

The area was set to be revitalised by the cardboard cathedral, being built on the south side of the square.

''You can imagine the number of people that will go there,'' he said.

''It will be the busiest tourist site in town - that's my gut feeling - and we're right across the road from it.

''I think we had a complementary role to play.''

The Bicycle Thief ''enjoyed a good reputation'', but he was undecided whether to take the brand to a new site or move on.

''We committed to Christchurch. We want to stay here, but we're not sure what we'll do,'' he said.

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