Excavations for complex may start soon

CECILE MEIER AND LIZ MCDONALD
Last updated 05:00 14/01/2014
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RE:START MALL: The container mall has been popular with locals and tourists.

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Work is about to start on central Christchurch's newest office and retail precinct, but the Re:Start container mall tenants on the land may get a short reprieve.

Landowner Lichfield Holdings has confirmed it hopes to start excavations next month for its near-$100 million Cashel Square complex. 

The approach of the project has triggered a reshuffle on the northern side of Re:Start and unsettled tenants only guaranteed their space until April 22.

One retailer has already decided to pull the plug. However, Lichfield Holdings director Nick Hunt said construction would be staged, and a ''month-by-month'' extension for Re:Start was possible.

He warned any extension might only be for a few months.

''It's high-risk stuff. There's a hell of a lot of money involved and and we've got to be very, very careful.''

Stage one of Cashel Square would be a Hereford St office building likely to include fashion, fast food, wine and convenience stores.

Exact timing depended on negotiations with government and private office tenants, but the building could be finished by August next year.

The plans were ''all ready to go'', Hunt said.

''Anything seems to take a hell of a lot longer than we'd like it to, but I'd be very disappointed if we don't start building in February.'' 

Stage two would be two linked office and retail buildings on the north side of Cashel St.

Hunt said work would probably start this year, depending how long design and consents took.

The combined precinct would include a public square and laneways linking with those in the Terrace complex going up next door.

Construction of stage one means leases for retailers Kathmandu and Cosmic will end later this month.

Scott Curtis, manager for fashion store Cosmic, said the company hoped to move within Re:Start and was negotiating with mall management.

Kathmandu will reopen in menswear store Hallensteins' spot on the south side of the mall by January 27.

Shop manager Sarah Garmson said she hoped Kathmandu could stay in the new location for at least six months.

Hallensteins will close its Re:Start store on Thursday. Hallensteins Glassons chief executive Graeme Popplewell said it would not relocate to a permanent location.

Re:Start chairman John Suckling said the mall's trustees were supporting Hunt's development plans.

''We are keen to see progress within the retail core. We support that, but the uncertainty has caused anxiety for the retailers there and we also understand that.''

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He said he was still pushing hard for the mall to stay until 2015.

The Press understands relocating could cost $1m.

''We would only consider shifting if we had the financial assistance to do it because we don't have the resources ourselves,'' Suckling said.

Last month Re:Start was given permission to stay until April 22 - a month later than its previous March deadline. 

The mall opened in October 2011 and was designed so it could be shifted.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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