Business big guns join to shape retail future

MARTA STEEMAN BUSINESS EDITOR
Last updated 05:00 27/10/2012
Philip Carter, left, Peter Guthrey and Richard Ballantyne

RETAIL PRECINCT: Christchurch retail business leaders Philip Carter, left, Peter Guthrey and Richard Ballantyne are combining their properties.

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Three of Christchurch's wealthiest and most influential business families have joined forces to have a leading role in shaping the new inner city shopping precinct.

Yesterday, Ballantynes, Philip Carter and Peter Guthrey showed a small part of their hand announcing they had formed the BCG Alliance, a formidable retailing and investor group proposing predominantly a retail and commercial office development over 25,000 square metres.

That is about 43 per cent of the total retail precinct footprint set out in the Christchurch Central Development Unit's blueprint.

It's the third retail plan for the retail precinct to go public and considerably larger in scale than the $200 million proposal unveiled on Thursday for another block close by.

There may have been more proposals submitted to CCDU by the Tuesday deadline, but CCDU is not revealing who or how many.

The BCG Alliance proposal is short on detail which is still being worked through and is likely to be released in a few weeks.

They have yet to reveal the total cost of the development.

"Here are three Christchurch families who are really wanting to show leadership for the city, want to ensure an end result that is stunning, but to do that we totally believe collaboration is the key amongst it all," Ballantynes managing director Mary Devine said.

"So we don't want to be big brother coming in and saying this is what we are all about, but we do want to create a vision that is exciting."

This week another group, which included investor Miles Middleton and construction manager Apollo Projects, unveiled a $200m, 8000sqm proposal for shops, offices and cafes and other hospitality for the block between City Mall, Lichfield St, Oxford Tce and Plymouth Lane.

Two other rival proposals for that block near the Avon River are understood to have been submitted to CCDU, each vying for support of about 13 landowners who make up the block.

The BCG Alliance area spreads from about halfway up City Mall on the Ballantynes side and across Colombo St to the block that extends to High St and through to Lichfield St.

The three families own the majority of the land. There are other landowners they are talking to.

Asked about outside investment partners, Carter said they were working as a tight investment unit and their proposal was evolving.

"You've got three pretty strong families financially," Carter said.

"We do want to work with other landowners. What the final entity is is still to be worked through," Devine said. Guthrey Holdings owns land next to Ballantynes while Carter Group owns properties on the other side of Colombo St.

Devine said fortunately they did not have competing development proposals on their block and they were confident they were the key players over the land they owned.

"The land is effectively controlled by this group either through ownership or partners working together, so we won't have that issue," Peter Guthrey said referring to the three rival plans on the block near the river.

BCG had a good relationship with CCDU and the council, Devine said.

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"It's not about individual gain, it's about an end product that everyone will be proud of."

BCG wanted to "drive the development of the central city retail precinct".

"We see the centre of retail sitting either side of Colombo St," Devine sai

- The Press

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