Otakaro boss says Christchurch rebuild plans will start to bear fruit in 2017

An aerial view of the proposed Christchurch convention centre site, bottom left.
IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

An aerial view of the proposed Christchurch convention centre site, bottom left.

Six years of effort behind the scenes will come to fruition this year as "physical proof" of Christchurch's earthquake rebuild is revealed.

Albert Brantley, chief executive of Crown company Otakaro Limited, said much of the six years since the February 2011 earthquake had been spent developing the city's recovery plans.

"[This] is the year people will actually start to see the real effort that's gone in behind the scenes, they'll start to see the physical proof of it," he said.

Concrete walls have been erected to house stairs and lifts at the new central library.
JOSEPH JOHNSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Concrete walls have been erected to house stairs and lifts at the new central library.

"You'll start to see progress on the major anchor projects like the convention centre and the metro sports [facility] this year."

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Otakaro is in charge of developing the Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial, which will be unveiled to the public at a service on Wednesday.

Otakaro began earthworks at the Convention centre site in October 2016.
JOSEPH JOHNSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Otakaro began earthworks at the Convention centre site in October 2016.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel said building an official memorial was an important step in the city's recovery.

"There was a lot of discussion about when was too soon, when would be too late . . . A lot of detailed analysis and thought has gone into this, and they've worked very closely with the families."

She said the city had made "good progress" on the rebuild. Opening the justice and emergency services precinct mid-year would boost confidence for businesses and citizens by bringing more jobs into the CBD, she said.

The empty sections stretching south of the Margaret Mahy Playground will become the east frame.
IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

The empty sections stretching south of the Margaret Mahy Playground will become the east frame.

She described Christchurch as being in a "mixed state", offering opportunities for newcomers and returning residents.

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"The vast majority of people know that we've had a tragedy, but what would make another tragedy would be not to take advantage of the enormous opportunity that tragedy almost always presents."

Brantley said Otakaro had signed a contract to begin work on the final stage of the Avon River Precinct, a promenade running through the central city from the Margaret Mahy Playground to Christchurch Hospital.

Work to redevelop Victoria Square would begin next week, while ongoing work on Durham and Manchester streets would be finished "as quickly" as possible, he said.

"Then as soon as we can figure out that spaghetti of construction in the [Christchurch] Hospital corner, we'll get in there and get that work done."

Former Christchurch mayor Garry Moore said the city needed to review several projects, such as the convention centre, which had suffered delays and funding issues.

Fletcher Living plans to complete the first lot of east frame houses and public spaces by May 2018.
JOSEPH JOHNSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Fletcher Living plans to complete the first lot of east frame houses and public spaces by May 2018.

"We had a 100-day plan, and so far they've had 1500 days to implement it," he said.

"With any capital project . . . if it hasn't been built now, then it's obviously got fundamental problems."

The public might have innovative ideas for projects that were otherwise struggling, Moore said.

Otakaro Limited is considering its options for the former CTV building site.
JOSEPH JOHNSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Otakaro Limited is considering its options for the former CTV building site.

Otakaro Limited has completed the preliminary design for the convention centre, and a call for tenders from a shortlist of contractors will go out in mid-March. A contractor is expected to be appointed about July. 

WHAT COMES NEXT

Fletcher Living is expected to begin work on the first 20 homes in the east frame in March or April, which will be ready about mid-2018.

Land remediation work is under way at the metro sports facility site, and Otakaro expects construction to begin later this year.

Work on the south frame's paved lanes and public spaces continues, with Mollet St set to be the first portion of the greenway to be completed about mid-year.

Work has stared on the new central library, with concrete walls that will house the stairs and elevators already in place.

The Christchurch City Council expects cladding will start going on the building by the end of the year, and it will open in mid-2018.

The council is waiting for staff to make a report on Lancaster Park, but it is leaning heavily towards demolishing it and building a new stadium in conjunction with central government.

A new stadium for the city was originally expected to be completed in 2017. The council has pushed out its stadium spending over three financial years between 2022 and 2025.

The council expects to open the Bishopdale Library and Community Centre; Sumner Library, Community Centre and Museum, and Litchfield car park building this year.

The new QEII Recreation and Sports Centre and the restoration of the Christchurch Town Hall should be completed mid-2018.

 - Stuff

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