Crown calls time on central Christchurch residential development
A major residential development in central Christchurch has fallen through after months of delays and silence.
The winners of the Breathe Urban Village were announced in 2013 and construction of the development – earmarked for the former Charlie's Backpackers site north of Latimer Square – was due to start in 2014.
The competition sought design ideas that offered the best in modern inner-city living while still being affordable.
Rumours had long been circulating about the project's viability but were denied by the would-be developer, while the Crown maintained negotiations were ongoing.
The project was listed in the city's recovery blueprint as an anchor project and received the backing of British designer and Grand Designs host Kevin McCloud, who was on the judging panel.
Christchurch-based building firm Holloway Builders, Italian architects Anselmi Attiani Architettura, and engineers Cresco were hailed by the judges for their innovative, affordable and sustainable design.
The Holloway consortium's entry included 72 timber-clad dwellings combining medium-rise apartment blocks with two and three-storey housing.
On Friday, the Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) confirmed the Breathe Residential Demonstration project would not go ahead.
CCDU director Baden Ewart said it was unfortunate the proposed developers had been unable to secure the funding they needed, but he was confident the 8000 square metre Crown-owned site would be "highly sought after".
"Negotiations have taken a long time and have always been cordial," he said.
"However with a deadline in place for late [Friday afternoon], Breathe Limited has . . . informed us it has been unable to confirm the availability of the necessary finance for the project to proceed."
The process to determine the "next steps for the land" was still to be worked through, he said.
Early this year, Christchurch builder Ian Smart – who founded Holloway Builders but had since left – was adamant the project would go ahead and expected an announcement soon.
In July, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee told Newstalk ZB he was disappointed with the developers and believed the project would struggle to get off the ground.