$400m business park planned
A $400 million business park to be built on the southwestern outskirts of Christchurch will be one of the biggest in New Zealand, housing up to 5000 workers.
The project will turn the former Islington freezing works site into a complex for industrial-type businesses.
First announced seven years ago with the backing of Timaru financier Allan Hubbard, the development has been revived to cash in on the boom in industrial property fuelled by the Canterbury rebuild.
The late Hubbard's place in the project has been bought out by Auckland developer and rich-lister John Sax, while Southland businessman, truck racer and former politician Ian Tulloch remains onboard.
Sax and Tulloch said their project was a sign of confidence in Christchurch.
To be called the Waterloo Business Park, it is expected to create hundreds of construction jobs, and construction will start this month.
Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee was to officially launch the business park tonight.
Work on the park's $30m infrastructure is set to begin this month, with the complex to be developed in stages over several years.
Plans for the landscaped business park feature a central hub and plaza, with fountains, outdoor spaces, walk and cycleways, boulevard-style roads and amenities such as a gym and cafes.
Sax said that with Christchurch expected to see ''the most incredible growth'' in the next decade, the new park should meet burgeoning demand for space for warehousing, logistics, light industry and manufacturing for the rebuild.
He said businesses were ''crying out for quality industrial space''.
Research from real estate companies shows Christchurch's industrial property prices and rents are the fastest growing in New Zealand as the rebuild boosts demand for premises and land.
The land for the development - bordered by Waterloo, Pound and Brixton roads between Islington and Templeton - has been used for meat production since the 19th century under names such as the Christchurch Meat Company, the New Zealand Refrigerating Company and Waitaki International.
The rural and industrial-zoned site was sold by PPCS in 2005 to joint-venture partners Hubbard, whose South Canterbury Finance failed before his death, and by Tulloch and his Southland business partner, Paul Johnstone.
Sax bought his share of the project from the finance company's receivers this year.
Estimated by the NBR rich list to be worth $85m, Sax owns the Southpark complex in Middleton through his company, Southpark Corporation, and has large land interests in Auckland.
Tulloch is a former Gore and Mataura mayor and UnitedFuture president who has business interests in transport, meat processing, farming and property.