Owners await plans as mall proposal ticked

LIZ MCDONALD
Last updated 06:27 07/12/2012
Apollo Group's plans for City Mall
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VISION: Artist's impression of merchant bank Ocean Partners and project managers Apollo Group's plans for City Mall.

Battleground for Cashel Mall
BATTLEGROUND: The area for the proposed development is marked on a pre-quake picture.

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Landowners are waiting for developers to make their next move in the Monopoly-style battle for the City Mall, after the Christchurch City Council approved a second big development proposal.

Merchant bank Ocean Partners and project managers Apollo Group have received resource consent for their planned $200 million precinct around a public square, hot on the heels of last week's approval for a $350m design from Australian duo Westpac bank and developers Goodman Group.

Both groups still need to buy or gain rights to the land, which is bordered by Cashel and Lichfield streets and Oxford Tce and in the hands of over a dozen owners.

Small-holder Paddy Cotter was uncertain of the fate of his two boutiques in the mall.

He did not have a preference for either plan, and would rather sell than invest in a big project.

"It's a case of wait and see, whether my building will stay or go I literally do not know. We'll need to see whether they make it attractive enough for people to want to sell."

Both groups' plans include office buildings with shops and hospitality outlets at street level.

Leighs Construction and architects Buchan Group, the companies behind Re:Start mall, are waiting to submit a third proposal marrying individual owners' rebuilds. Another proposal from the Ballantynes, Carter and Guthrey families overlaps the Westpac-Goodman plan.

The Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) requires proposals of at least 7500sq m for the city's core retail area to avoid piecemeal development, but is reluctant to step in and acquire land if owners cannot agree.

Rob Logie, who is part of the Leighs-Buchan proposal and wants to keep the mall site his family has owned for 120 years, said all the owners could now just wait.

"One of these parties is going to have to make a move to start accumulating land - it could be that one of them strikes before Christmas."

Tim Howe, of Ocean Partners, said they were already making offers for property and were now "in a position to transact".

Other owners would rather keep their land and join the development, he said.

Howe was also confident of attracting investors for the project. "The phone has been ringing. Funding is being finalised for it as we speak."

He expected enough local money would be available, but if not he believed there was plenty of international interest in investing in the Christchurch rebuild.

Westpac had nothing to add to last week's comment that they were pleased to have resource consent but had a long way to go with their plan.

Westpac-Goodman have gone back to the drawing board after the commissioners approving the application - a panel from the council, CCDU and Ngai Tahu - rejected an aspect jutting over Oxford Tce that would have required road closure.

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- The Press

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