Government office cluster for city

TIM FULTON
Last updated 07:38 08/07/2014

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Property developers are eyeing more deals to turn Christchurch's inner city "donut" into a golden triangle backed by Crown leases for office space, the Government says.

Three private sector developments in or near to the central city retail area will be occupied by 13 government departments and Crown agencies, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said yesterday.

The confirmed long-term leases are roughly within the old shopping triangle enclosed by the Avon River to the west, pointing off to Cashel, Hereford and High streets.

About 1100 public servants will move into three Crown-tenanted sites from late 2015 to late 2016.

The relocations, which include moving costs, will be worth $170 million to the city over the next 20 years, Brownlee said.

Government employees are currently spread across 14 parts of the city, including several suburban spots.

Retail would be available on the ground floor of the new city sites. The Crown expects to settle lease terms for a fourth building by the end of 2014.

Brownlee said government agencies returning to the inner city started as a "political idea" but it could only come to life because of many commercial deals.

The Government wanted to encourage property developers and commercial tenants to head back to the CBD but it would also create "synergies" for the public sector, including shared leasing of fleet cars.

Counting other Crown-led rebuilds, about 3000 state servants would work in a "tight area" of the inner city, Brownlee said.

Property firm Colliers has predicted that within three years about 10,000 people would be working within 300 metres of Christchurch's Retail Precinct. This population is predicted to rise to 15,000 within four years.

One of the earliest growth zones is expected to be a development by Lichfield Holdings Ltd, Cashel Square Stage 1. The block will house nine state agencies including Statistics New Zealand and the Department of Internal Affairs, Statistics New Zealand and NZ Transport.

Cashel Square's second stage will include the Accident Compensation Corporation and about 200 staff from BNZ.

The Hotel Grand Central group, a publicly-listed Singaporean enterprise, will also lease to the Government.

Grand Central will host the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Development, Ministry of Social Development and Department of Conservation.

The Crown's fourth, unspecified tenancy will have space for the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Housing NZ Corporation and Fairway Resolution.

State Services Minister Jonathan Coleman said the Crown's "extensive project" to bring departments and agencies together had "saved time and money".

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The state's lease contracts have been heralded since at least April, when The Press reported about 1700 office workers would occupy buildings in Cashel St and Hereford St.

- The Press

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