Anchor projects bill totals $4.8 billion

NICOLE MATHEWSON AND ANNA TURNER
Last updated 16:45 27/06/2013
anchor landscape
John Kirk-Anderson

ANNOUNCEMENT: John Key, Bob Parker and Gerry Brownlee at today's anchor projects media conference.

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Christchurch will have $4.8 billion invested in its rebuild - $2.9b from the Crown and $1.9b from the city council.

The Crown and the Christchurch City Council said they had reached an agreement today on the cost-sharing arrangement for anchor projects in the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan and the repair and replacement of the city's essential horizontal infrastructure.

Among the costings revealed are the convention centre, the stadium and the performing arts centre.

Speaking in central Christchurch today, Prime Minister John Key said the announcement was a "milestone" for Christchurch's recovery and rebuild.

Key, addressing city councillors, business leaders and Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority representatives, said the cost-sharing agreement between the Crown and the council provided "certainty" for the city.

Much of the work to repair the city's horizontal infrastructure had been under way, but today's agreement allowed authorities to move forward faster.

Negotiations for the agreement had involved senior officials, rather than politicians, and "were not rushed".

Key said the agreement represented the council's priorities in its long-term plan and the Crown's priorities. "I get a strong sense of optimism in Christchurch today."

Key earlier announced that the Earthquake Commission's home repair programme was halfway through fixing 80,000 earthquake-damaged homes.

"We're on the homeward straight. It also means a whole lot of Canterbury families have been able to get their lives back on track," he said.

Key said housing values had been maintained and confidence in the city was high, with new statistics showing Christchurch had a population gain of about 100 people a day.

Time frames for the central city's anchor projects would be announced over the next few months.

About 20 Crown agencies would sign agreements for moving into the central city over the next couple of years, and the first stage of the Avon River precinct, near the Antigua Boat Sheds, was nearing completion and would open soon.

Mayor Bob Parker said having the cost-sharing agreement finalised was "absolutely crucial" for the city.

"I want to thank my earthquake buddy, minister Gerry [Brownlee], because at the end of the day he had to take this back to Cabinet and fight for his city. I thank your Cabinet colleagues for putting their support behind the city."

He praised city councillors for their work since the quakes. "We've stood together. I'm sure that's made the negotiations on both sides much easier, having that clarity."

The Government had taken on responsibility for the city's new convention centre.

"I think they're incredibly bold and brave. I congratulate them for taking that step on behalf of our city. It is a massive commitment to Christchurch," he said.

The council would be sharing the new stadium project with the Government, while the town hall and performing arts precinct was under the responsibility of the council.

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"Wherever you look around Christchurch ... you can see the work that will come out of the work we've done in this negotiation. It's been very challenging at times," Parker said.

"What today is about is a milestone day. We really step into our future now with some real certainity."

"The city, I think, comes out of this very, very well."

Parker confirmed that the council would oversee the development of a new performing arts precinct adjacent to the Isaac Theatre Royal.

It was also responsible for building a flagship Central Library fronting Cathedral Square that the council would pay $60 million towards, and would share responsibility for enhancement of the Square and a new central-city transport plan, costing the council $5m and $27m respectively.

Parker said the council could afford the investment.

"Our rates increases before the earthquake were averaging 4 per cent a year. Council then agreed to a special earthquake levy of around 1.8 per cent a year for five years to fund the earthquake response costs," he said.  

"We are two years through this programme, so in three years that levy will be reduced by an equivalent amount."

He said that by Christmas the council would have made "significant progress" on many of the plans for the major city facilities.

"Much of our emphasis in the central business district since the earthquakes has been the removal of dangerous buildings. Work can now start in earnest on rebuilding in the heart of our city," he said.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Brownlee said the biggest cost to the council and the Crown was horizontal infrastructure, with the Crown paying $1.8b and the council $1.14b.

The stadium would be the next biggest cost to the council at $253m, while their contribution to a performing arts centre was $158m.

The Crown was set to spend the most money on Christchurch's frame, contributing $481m, while also spending $284m on the convention centre.

Brownlee said the figures released were indicative costings as there would be "competitive processes" for each of them.

Labour earthquake recovery spokeswoman Lianne Dalziel said the agreement left little room for local input. 

"Earthquake Minister Gerry Brownlee today confirmed that it is the 'public sector' vision of the CBD that will drive the process from here. The people of Christchurch apparently have no say in the matter."

Dalziel called for the Cabinet papers relating to the plan to be released to the public. 

She was also disappointed the announcement had come the day after Brownlee appeared before Parliament's Finance and Expenditure Committee.

"If the Minister had made the announcement yesterday, MPs would have been able to ask the questions that remain unanswered"

KEY COSTINGS:

Repair to horizontal infrastructure:  The council has committed $1.1b to the costs of repairing and rebuilding Christchurch's earthquake-damaged roads and underground pipes. The Crown's share of $1.8b is based on agreed subsidies of 83 per cent for roading and 60 per cent for sewer, water and stormwater.

Anchor projects: The council's contribution for the Anchor projects - the frame, the convention centre precinct, the stadium, car parking, the metro sports facility, the town hall-performing arts precinct, the earthquake memorial, Central Library, Avon River Park, Cathedral Square, the transport interchange and transport plan - is $782.9m, including escalations. The Crown will pay $1.1b.

Convention centre: The Crown will lead the convention centre rebuild. It is hoping to secure private sector investment but has allocated $284m to the precinct. There is no council funding towards this in the form of capital or operating costs.

The frame: The Crown is funding this project at a cost of $481m and when completed will transfer the public areas back to the council.

The stadium: The proposal is for a 35,000-seat covered stadium for sport and entertainment events over three city blocks between Hereford and Tuam streets, bounded by Madras and Barbadoes streets. This agreement caps the council contribution at $253m - the amount the council allowed for rebuilding the original AMI Stadium at Lancaster Park. The Crown will contribute $37m.

Metro sports facility: The Crown will lead this project, but the council will have final approval of the design and scope for the project. The council is contributing $147m of the total cost of the facility, which includes a competition pool, an indoor sports stadium and a movement centre. The Crown will pay $70m.

Transport interchange: The project includes a new central-city bus interchange, two central-city super-stops in Manchester St and at Christchurch Hospital, the Riccarton and Northlands malls suburban interchanges and Riccarton Rd bus priority measures. The Crown is seeking private sector investment to build and operate the transport interchange, but if this is not successful, the fallback position is that the council will own and operate the interchange.
The council will pay $40m and the Crown $51m.

Avon River precinct: The Crown is leading this project, with the council's contribution being $6.4m. The Crown's contribution is $89m.

Cathedral Square: The Crown and the council will work together on a joint project to enhance Cathedral Square, with the council contributing $4.6m, an amount the Crown will equal.

Performing Arts precinct: Given its determination to save one of the city's landmarks, the Town Hall, the council will consider several options before August 31. These include saving all or part of the Town Hall and developing a cultural arts precinct adjacent to the Theatre Royal. The council has budgeted $158m, including the Town Hall rebuild, for this project. The Crown will pay $8m.

Central Library: The council will lead this project to build a flagship Central Library fronting Cathedral Square. The council has budgeted $60m for this project, with a further $29m from the Crown and philanthropic sources.

Car parking: The council will work with the Christchurch Central Development Unit and the private sector on central-city parking. At this stage there is a need for three central-city parking buildings. The council has budgeted $70m, which will be funded by repair funds and insurance proceeds from the Manchester, Lichfield, Crossing, Farmers and Crown Plaza car parks. The Crown will not contribute.

Earthquake memorial: The Ministry of Culture and Heritage is leading this project on behalf of the Crown, which is also funding the memorial. The council may be required to maintain the memorial.

Transport plan: The council is providing $27m towards changes to the layout of the central-city transport network and the Crown will pay $44m.
The funding will cover:
- Enhancing roads by the Avon River precinct (portions of Cambridge Tce, Durham St, Colombo St and Armagh St).
- Enhancing Manchester Blvd/S from the transport interchange to Kilmore St.
- Health precinct, Avon River, Oxford Tce/Tuam St swap. Enhancement of surrounding areas (portions of St Asaph, Antigua, Montreal, Hagley and Selwyn streets).
- Two-way transformation of Kilmore St.
- Fitzgerald Ave-Kilmore St intersection/bridge enhancement.
- Fitzgerald Ave-Moorhouse Ave intersection enhancement.
- Lincoln Rd-Moorhouse Ave intersection enhancement.

- The Press

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