Developer on a $100m Victoria St mission

New office space will cover three rugby fields

LIZ MCDONALD
Last updated 05:00 18/01/2013
victoria st std
Dean Kozanic

MAJOR DEVELOPMENT: Christchurch's Victoria St.

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Take eight central Christchurch sites and about $100 million of investment and you will soon have enough new office space to cover three rugby fields.

It is no wonder local property developer Richard Diver has not had a chance for a summer holiday. He and Auckland company Clearwater Construction have joined forces to buy and develop Victoria St sites as part of the earthquake rebuild.

Six multi-storey office buildings are planned and another two have been saved from demolition and refurbished. The partners are negotiating to buy a ninth property on the street and were yesterday offered a 10th.

Construction is under way on a five-storey office and retail building on the corner of Victoria and Peterborough streets, with the others due to start over the next few months. Piles are going in 24 metres deep - the height of a seven or eight-storey building - on most of the sites.

The six new structures should be completed or under way by the end of the year, and in total the eight buildings will provide two hectares of office space.

"We've got a city to rebuild. I couldn't afford to take time off," said Diver of his lack of a holiday.

"I've got to keep going to get these buildings up."

The buy-up began after Diver replaced the Daily Bagel building he lost in the September 2010 quake with the new Carlton Butchery building. He decided to do more in Victoria St, attracted by the street's culture of cafes, bars and shops, and the advantage of being outside the red-zone cordon.

"We realised we wanted to be involved in the rebuild sooner rather than later," he said. "We are gaining some really good traction. It's good to have things moving and be creating so much employment."

He believed the tower crane on the Victoria St-Peterborough St site was the only one in the city putting something up, rather than taking something down.

The Diver-Clearwater partnership, known as Countrywide Property, uses mostly local workers.

They have just bought an old Edgeware retirement home to house the out-of-town workers it will soon need.

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