Students return to city
Avonmore is about to become the first tertiary institute to return to the centre of Christchurch since the earthquakes.
The institute has signed a long-term lease on a 2500 square metre building at 150 Hereford St, just metres from Colombo St.
The building, which runs between Hereford and High streets and is still in the red zone, was a food court before the earthquakes. It has been upgraded and is being refurbished for Avonmore Tertiary Institute.
Avonmore general manager Mike Hadley said the institute had been assured that part of the red zone would be open by the end of January.
He hoped to be in the new premises by mid-February, but a three-week red-zone closure over Christmas and New Year had delayed the opening. He now hoped to operate from the new building by the end of March.
"It'll just be great to get going and get in there," Hadley said.
Some 45 staff and about 250 students would be working and studying at the new building, which would help to bring some vibrancy back to the city centre, Hadley said.
Before the quakes, Avonmore, which specialises in vocation-based education and training, had premises in Cashel St and on the corner of Hereford St and Latimer Square. Both buildings have since been demolished.
The institute has been looking to move back into the central city after operating from split sites in Addington, Waltham, Richmond and Hoon Hay for nearly two years.
Hadley said it was crucial for Avonmore to be in the central city and close to bus routes because its students came from the north, east and south of the city.
Student numbers have fallen about 30 per cent since the quakes and Hadley hoped the new premises would help boost numbers.
The ground floor would include a cafe and a hairdressing salon that would be open to the public.
Hadley said it had been difficult to attract people to the Avonmore cafe at the Addington Events Centre because there was less foot traffic than in town. He expected the new cafe to cater for construction workers initially, and change as the clientele changed.