Shopping centres sign of new start

BEN HEATHER
Last updated 05:00 22/10/2011
City Mall
City Mall will reopen on Saturday, October 29.

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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Plans for a drinking and dining hub in City Mall are being dusted off by organisers after they were shelved because of a lack of funds.

Two pop-up shopping centres made of converted shipping containers are scheduled to open in the mall next Saturday, marking the first step in reopening central Christchurch since the devastating February 22 earthquake.

The 27 shops will be clustered in two vacant blocks left after demolitions of quake-hit buildings. Each block will include a cafe.

However, central city business association manager Paul Lonsdale said a third cluster had been proposed for City Mall, housing up to 15 bars and restaurants, but was dropped because the $1.8 million needed could not be raised.

"We didn't get enough funding but we are hoping now that this [City Mall] is almost done we will get some more money," he said.

The entertainment hub would have been on the site where the demolished DTZ building stood and could have included Winnie Bagoes, Annie's Wine Bar and some bars from Poplar Lane.

"There were a lot of businesses that were keen to get in there."

Yesterday, more than 150 workers were furiously working to meet the deadline for next Saturday's opening.

Despite the street still resembling a construction zone, organisers said they were confident that they would meet the deadline.

Businesses moving into the City Mall precinct include a mix of old tenants, big brands and pre-quake central city stalwarts.

Kathmandu will be the main anchor of the northern precinct, with fashion shops – including Trelise Cooper and Maher Shoes – clustered around the Crafted Coffee cafe.

The southern precinct will be huddled next to Ballantynes, with many well-known former central-city shops such as Johnson's Grocery Store, formerly in Colombo St, and Scorpio Books, formerly in Hereford St.

Project architect Anton Tritt, of the Buchan Group, said shipping containers had been chosen for the precinct because they were strong. They could also be reused at a new site if landowners decided to put up more permanent buildings.

Because of an agreement with the landowners, new tenants were given leases of only six months, with the entire shopping precinct scheduled to be dismantled after Easter next year.

However, some organisers expressed hope that, if successful, the containers could remain for years.

Kooky Fashion is one of the tenants returning to City Mall after its building was destroyed in the February quake.

Managing director Jason Dunn said he expected the shipping containers to stay for up to two years.

"If it's going well the building owners are getting something for nothing really," he said.Kooky has successfully relocated to Riccarton, but Dunn said he was keen to take advantage of a rejuvenated central city.

He believed the mall would draw predominantly weekend shoppers, but there was the potential for people to come to the precinct as a destination during the week as well.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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