New Regent St future looking bright

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 12:14 04/12/2013
new regent st
Daniel Tobin

BRIGHT FUTURE: Plenty of new shops are opening on New Regent St in January, despite two recent closures.

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New Regent St business owners are positive about the area's long-term future despite being a ''small island in the middle of the sea''. 

MC Beauty & Nails and Prestige Fudge are leaving* the street blaming a lack of foot traffic and road closures but others say the street's popularity is growing. 

Youngs Jewellers was based in New Regent St before the earthquakes and was forced to relocate to a garage in Fendalton until it reopened this year. 

'Better than being in a garage in Fendalton'

Co-owner Rebecca Stewart said being back in the street was ''far better than being in a garage in Fendalton'' but she agreed road works and closures had made things difficult. 

''But we love this street and we love our building...we aren't going anywhere,'' she said. 

She thought there would be a big improvement over the next year. 

Coffee Lovers opening cafe next door

Coffee Lovers owner Geoffrey Gao said business was doing ''pretty well'' and he was planning to open a second cafe, to be named Cafe Stir, next door in early January.

''But we are still a small island in the middle of the sea,'' he said. 

Road closures and de-tours caused ''a lot of trouble for customers'' and it was rebuild workers that kept him going over winter.

''But we have had to change our product all the time,'' he said.

''At first it was local people coming through and wanting coffee and a snack...and then it was builders and they wanted pies and fatty stuff.''

Shop Eight applying for liquor licence

Owner of Shop Eight Liz Phelan said she was ''definitely positive'' about the future of the street. 

''We've got some great businesses moving in soon and...I think it will be a combination of time and better access that will improve things.'' 

Phelan had applied for a liquor licence and hoped the area would ''develop a hospitality presence''.

Caffeine Lab and wine bar open in January

Caffeine Lab is another cafe moving into New Regent St. Owner James Bagrie said he was "waiting on paperwork" that would allow him to start the shop's fit-out but hoped to be open in early January.

Malcolm Riddock, general manager of The Auricle, said the unit's upstairs gallery was open but the wine and sound bar downstairs was still being finished. 

"We're going through the usual compliance nightmare with the council," he said.

He hoped it would be open this month but was looking more likely to be early next month.

Align Architects will be taking over the unit currently leased by MC Beauty & Nails in early January. 

''Small retail might not be right [for the street at the moment] but in the future it will be and in the meantime having small offices will help generate foot traffic,'' Tessa O'Donnell from Align Architects said. 

Prestige Fudge owner David Withell said he was forced to leave the street because his business was losing too much money.

''After the novelty of the street opening died off, people started to forget all about [it], access started to get more difficult and people were disappointed to see that there was still empty shops,'' he said.

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Mayor cites re-population as key

Speaking to small-business owners at the Westpac business hub today, Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said that re-populating the central city was the key to enhancing retail and business in the city.

The city council needed to work with central government and the private sector to ''re-populate'' the central city, she said.

''If we want to repopulate the centre of the city, we need to be building houses ...  and I'm not just talking about social housing and affordable housing,'' she said.

''We need to be able to kickstart developments so that they are worthwhile for investors.''

She said the council needed to look at possible partnerships with organisations like Ngai Tahu.

''We cannot stand on the sidelines and say 'people will move back into the city','' she said.

* MC Beauty & Nails will continue to operate in their New Regent St premises until December 24. An earlier version of this story suggested it had already closed. We apologise for the error.

- The Press

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