Delays spark anonymous $10m offer

GEORGINA STYLIANOU AND GLENN CONWAY
Last updated 05:00 13/02/2014
Antony Gough
Fairfax NZ
GET ON WITH IT: Developer Antony Gough says an anonymous investor's $10 million will be at risk if officials decide to further delay the reopening of the council’s Lichfield St car parking building.

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An anonymous investor is willing to cough up $10 million to fast-track the reopening of a central Christchurch parking building.

The money from the unnamed private investor was offered through Christchurch developer Antony Gough to the Christchurch City Council.

Gough is among developers frustrated at the ongoing delays in reopening earthquake-damaged car parking buildings.

One central city developer is pushing ahead with his own plans for a multi-storey building with parks for up to 400 cars.

Gough declined to name the investor but said the money would be at risk if officials decided to further delay the reopening of the council's Lichfield St car park building.

"My only concern is that [the council] might look at a silly thing like putting base isolators on that building. That's not needed and it would make [the investment] uneconomic."

Gough had contacted council staff, including Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel, to encourage them to speed up the repair of the Lichfield St, The Crossing and Christchurch Hospital car parking buildings.

"I'm really concerned, three years on [since the February 2011 quake], there are still no multi-storey buildings repaired or even being looked at to be repaired. It's all silence," Gough said.

The council had promised to release detailed engineering reports on the Lichfield St building within a fortnight.

The repair work could be carried out as a public-private partnership, Gough said.

"There is absolutely no downside."

Richard Diver, who has developed about 10 Victoria St sites since the earthquakes, has plans for a car-parking building with the capacity for 400 vehicles in Kilmore St. The building design was under way and Diver hoped to apply for consent as soon as possible.

"Even though car parking has nowhere near the same economic returns, it's what is required by our tenants."

He said all developers should provide as many car parking spaces as they could.

"I think some people build these huge buildings and forget car parking, so we've made a conscious decision to incorporate it."

A car park stacking system - with a capacity of about 100 vehicles - was also planned for 133 Victoria St and another vacant site would be used for parking, Diver said.

Ernest Duval, a Christchurch developer and spokesman for the Central Owners Rebuild Entity, said parking would continue to be one of the biggest development holdups until the council, or the Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU), took the lead in providing parking.

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"We need a long-term plan that works, a comprehensive car parking plan across the city to solve this issue."

Canterbury rich-lister Philip Carter has previously criticised the council for its inaction over the Crossing parking building in Lichfield St that is holding up his City Mall development next door.

Other developers, including long-time Triangle Centre landlord Michael Ogilvie-Lee and Cambridge Tce developer Stephen Collins, have cited uncertainty about car parking as among the difficulties in Christchurch's central city.

Last year, developer Tim Howe, from Ocean Partners, pitched a plan to redevelop the Lichfield St car park in a bid to speed up his project and help secure tenants.

Council staff were waiting on more information about the proposal. Unit manager for transport and greenspace John Mackie said the council was working with the CCDU on a long-term parking plan that would forecast future demand and identify where, and when, parking was needed to support the rebuild.

Mackie said the council was developing "open air temporary public car parks" on vacant sites to offset the loss of damaged facilities.

Decisions about the repair or replacement of existing car-parking buildings still needed to be made, he said.

- The Press

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