Kickstart for stalled precinct

Last updated 07:21 29/11/2013
An artist’s view of the $200 thmillion One Commerce Square proposal from Ocean Partners and the Apollo Group.

EARLIER PLAN: The $200 million One Cashel Square proposal from Ocean Partners and the Apollo Group.

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The Government will try to kickstart central Christchurch's stalled retail precinct around the City Mall by getting together with the private sector to draw up plans.

Following advice from Australian consultants, the Government has appointed architects to lead the design process.

Greg Wilson from the Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) said they acknowledged the "good progress" made so far by the private sector, but wanted to give advice and support.

Yesterday CCDU staff met landowners and developers who have been struggling to redevelop the blocks around the City Mall.

Only landowner Antony Gough has started building in the mall with the launch of his Terrace precinct. Despite several other plans being put forward, there is no other construction scheduled in the core retail precinct.

Wilson identified car parking, accessibility and the risk of piecemeal development as key issues they would look at with the Christchurch City Council.

He said things were at a "critical juncture" but was confident of an "outstanding retail destination and shopping experience" if everyone worked together. "A thriving retail core is crucial for a successful central city and for the recovery as a whole," he said.

The CCDU has appointed a group of designers led by Athfield Architects to work with the owners' designers to create a concept plan and designs for public spaces.

They will also produce a separate plan for the block between the Bridge of Remembrance and Ballantynes, which has become a battleground as developers try to gain control of land.

Landowner Peter Guthrey said yesterday's meeting was "very good . . . For the first time, I think I've got a level of confidence".

The CCDU's action has followed the release of the Australian report from consultants MacroPlan Dimasi.

The report's other recommendations included forming a new board to get the retail precinct up and running, releasing more details about the anchor projects and how many workers and residents would return to the central city, and creating incentives to draw retailers back.

It also looked at successful retail precincts overseas, suggesting Christchurch take away the best ideas from each.

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- The Press


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