Christmas deadline unlikely to be met

CHARLIE GATES
Last updated 05:00 26/09/2012
New Regent St Sep 25
DEAN KOZANIC/Fairfax NZ

BIG ASK: Construction workers are refitting earthquake-damaged New Regent St, but despite their best efforts it looks unlikely to be open for Christmas.

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New Regent St is unlikely to be open in time for the Christmas shopping rush after an engineering dispute delayed consent.

The historic street is being restored and earthquake-strengthened, with shop owners hoping to be open by Christmas.

New Regent St is one of the few heritage sites in the central-city red zone to have emerged from the Canterbury earthquakes relatively unscathed.

Construction company Naylor Love has united most shop owners for the restoration project, but a few have not yet signed up.

New Regent St landowner David Manning, who owns four units in the street, said: "I am not sure if it will be open for Christmas now. We had a bit of a hiccup with the consent.

"We were hoping to make Christmas, but we have been set back a little bit because the consent process was a little slower than we hoped. We are still hoping," Manning said.

"The worst case would be January or February. We are not shattered by that, but we are hoping that it can happen."

Project engineer Endel Lust said a Christmas opening was unlikely.

"It will be very tight, but it is possible. A lot of the work is sequential, so you can't throw more manpower at it to get it done faster," Lust said.

Christchurch City Council raised concerns about seismic strengthening plans for the street, which meant building consent was delayed.

Manning said the street would focus on food and beverage for nearby hotel guests.

"We are hoping to attract good-quality retail, food and beverage and tourist-related activity," he said.

"There was a heavy emphasis on cafes and lunch before the quake because of all the offices around there, but they are not there now. People from the hotels will be there instead."

He said the emphasis on food and beverage meant the Christmas deadline was not crucial.

"It won't really be a Christmas-present street," he said.

Project manager Ed Leeson, of Naylor Love, was unavailable for comment.

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- The Press

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