The Strip site to host $30m precinct

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 22/01/2013

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A planned $30 million to $40m bar, restaurant and retail precinct in central Christchurch could be open by the latter half of next year.

The project will cover 8500 square metres along the Oxford Tce Strip.

Shops, with offices above, would be built along the City Mall as far as the old Sony building.

Developer Antony Gough said the bars and restaurants along Oxford Tce would target a more mature market than the original Strip, which was renowned for attracting young people.

"It's not that 18-year-olds won't be welcome, but it won't be a booze barn for them," he said. "It won't be the market we're targeting."

Gough said that unlike other developers who were putting plans in for buildings on central-city land that they did not own, his company had secured ownership of all the 8500sqm covered by the proposed development.

"We have the land already. We don't have the problem of everyone else who is doing ODPs [outline development plans] and don't own the land," he said.

"We went the other way around and sorted out the ownership first, because without the land you're doing nothing."

He has appointed architectural firm Jasmax, which worked on the Britomart Transport Centre in Auckland and Te Papa in Wellington, to design the precinct.

"We're planning to be digging the ground by the middle of this year and we'll have the first part finished by the third quarter of 2014," he said.

Gough will fly to Auckland today to go over ideas for the precinct with Jasmax and its consultants.

Final plans for the area would be ready to be submitted to the Joint Management Board for planning approval by the middle of next month. The board is the planning authority set up last year to fast-track consent applications relating to the new central business district.

"Ours is a comprehensive development. It will be a huge complex of retail, hospitality and office, and we might also put some other things, like a hotel, in there," Gough said.

"We're aiming at a quality development rather than a quick development. Those who are rushing around throwing buildings up as quickly as they can at the moment probably won't stand the test of time, as ours will."

Finance for the project is understood to be largely from insurance money that Gough and his family, who, according to the National Business Review's rich list, have an estimated wealth of $300m, received from their properties in the development area and in other parts of the central city.

Gough's planned hospitality precinct will be the central city's first since the Strip, SOL Square and Poplar St were destroyed in the February 2011 earthquake.

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Plans are afoot for redeveloping SOL Square but they are on hold until developers Max Bremner and Richard Peebles can buy the land.

They have been trying for more than a year to negotiate a sale with the BNZ and receiver BDO New Zealand, which took control of the land when Christchurch developer David Henderson's company, Tuam Ventures, was placed into receivership by the bank in 2009.

- The Press

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