Fight on for $52m entertainment complex

LIZ MCDONALD
Last updated 09:51 18/11/2013
MET design

BIG PLANS: The MET will house an eight-screen cinema, an 80-room hotel, a restaurant, bar, shops and a gymnasium.

Moorhouse Ave rail site
Daniel Tobin/Fairfax NZ
DESOLATE: Christchurch's old railway station site on Moorhouse Ave.

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Over a year since a $52 million entertainment complex was announced to replace Christchurch's old railway station site, the land remains bare.

But the owners promise that despite delays and frustrations, they are "still fighting" to build it.

Project manager and spokesman Matthew Jeffreys said they were "as determined as ever" to deliver their promise of "a world class entertainment facility" to be called the Moorhouse Entertainment Terminus (MET).

"Rest assured the MET hasn't gone anywhere," he said.

The 1.1 hectare former railway site, which was home to a Hoyts cinema multiplex before the earthquakes, is owned by Christchurch-based American expatriate and movie producer Lisa Abbott.

Her proposed redevelopment does not cover the former Science Alive! site next door.

The state-of-the-art complex has been designed with a piazza, an eight-screen cinema, an 80-room hotel in a nine-storey tower, an interactive playground and activity zone, a market-style food precinct, a restaurant and bar, shops and a gymnasium.

Abbott announced plans for the new complex in October last year with hopes of starting work by late 2012 once the old building was demolished.

In March she launched an interactive website to gather public ideas for the project.

Jeffreys said they had hoped that by making an early start, they would lead regrowth and bring people back to the city.

"'We were fast out of the blocks and initially thought this very positive, with hindsight we were in fact a little too fast."

Designing the MET was frustrating while post-quake building rules and practices were changing, he said.

As well, it was difficult to value the complex and get finance because of the combination of rising construction costs and tenant resistance to higher rents. But they did not intend to to cash up and leave.

Many rebuilding projects in the central city did not stack up financially, but they were among those determined to go ahead and do it anyway, he said.

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