Bids sought for 'iconic' centre

DESIGN SOUGHT: The Christchurch Convention Centre will straddle Gloucester St and open onto Cathedral Square.
DESIGN SOUGHT: The Christchurch Convention Centre will straddle Gloucester St and open onto Cathedral Square.

Christchurch's next convention centre must be an ''iconic'' facility that can be opened by early 2017, potential developers have been told.

The Christchurch Central Development Unit and the Christchurch City Council have called for tenders from groups that want to be part of the convention centre precinct.

The precinct will include the centre, connected retail and commercial operations and a five-star hotel, and must be open by March 2017.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said officials had ''opened up a blank canvas'' for individual companies or consortiums to build the precinct.

He said the convention centre would need to be able to run three concurrent events and ''comfortably'' hold 2000 people.

Design proposals would also need to make use of the precinct's connections to Cathedral Square, Victoria Square and the Avon River park, he said.

''In keeping with the exciting new city we are creating around it, it needs to be an iconic facility that makes an impressive aesthetic statement."

Brownlee said the convention centre would be a catalyst for development in the city centre and would boost the Canterbury economy.

"The convention centre will need to be supported by other hotels, eateries and shops, so this step will trigger progress for other businesses too."

Brownlee said companies had until November 9 to submit their proposals.

Short-listed groups would be invited to discuss their proposals further, with a decision made by February next year.

The Press