Christchurch city centre to open mid-year

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 05:00 08/01/2013
Nick Bailey
IAIN MCGREGOR/Fairfax NZ

IMMENSE TASK: Nick Bailey working on the Burger King site on Colombo St. Disruption in the area is likely to continue for two to three years.

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Central Christchurch's red zone is on track for a mid-year reopening.

Demolition work inside the cordon resumed yesterday after contractors took a break over Christmas.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority operations deputy general manager Baden Ewart said he was confident a target to open the red zone by the middle of the year would be met.

However, some areas would remain off limits because of new building and infrastructure construction.

"I'd rather we were further along, but we are where we are," Ewart said. "The contractors all work hard and have a bit of a break over Christmas period, but they'll be back into it with a will.

"We're all dealing with stuff that is new and novel, but I'm generally satisfied that we're making the progress we expected. We have time-frames in contractual terms for the buildings, but inevitably there are variations and our experience has been there have been some surprises along the way."

The Clarendon Tower demolition had taken longer than hoped. Disruption was likely to continue for two to three years, Ewart said.

"This year we will see a transition from demolition to construction, but accompanying that transition will be still the need to secure work sites," he said.

The Christchurch City Council hopes to open temporary facilities in Cathedral Square this year.

Ewart said the owners of the Heritage and Millennium hotels were still "reviewing their options".

The BNZ and ANZ building demolitions were blocking access to the south and Government Life, for which "hard" demolition was expected to begin in March, was blocking the north end.

Hereford St could not open from the cordon west of Colombo St until demolitions of the Wendy's building, Te Wai Pounamu House and BNZ were completed.

Work to remove the basements of the Holiday Inn and Westpac Building, which was expected to take about three months, would keep the area around Cashel and High streets closed.

There was "still a lot of work" in the demolition of The Crossing and Bus Exchange around Colombo and Lichfield streets.

The former civic offices on Tuam St would be pulled down to make way for the new bus interchange.

Ewart said buildings acquired within the central-city blueprint's eastern and southern frames would also be demolished.

"That'll be an ongoing activity through the rest of the year and pretty much a building-by-building effort."

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