This ghost town could be great

CECILE MEIER
Last updated 11:11 13/02/2015

I live in a ghost town. Or, since Christchurch's CBD's population fell from 8000 to just 5000 after the quakes, perhaps I should call it a ''ghosting'' town.

On weekends I drift from street to street in search of company, but all I see are empty car parks, dusty building sites and quiet streets. The few people who do venture into town cluster in a few select spots - New Regent St, the Re:Start and Victoria St at night.

On weekdays there's a little more spirit but it might not be growing fast enough for the early settlers. St Asaph St Kitchen, which had great nachos, has closed and I suspect many other businesses are struggling.

Living in the CBD has lots of perks - you barely need to use your car so you save on petrol, you are close to everything so you don't need to plan for everything in advance and if you don't have a backyard you save time on weeding.

In most cities, you're close to people when you live in the centre.

But in Christchurch that's where you're most likely to be isolated at the moment.

Most of my friends live in various suburbs of Christchurch - they need their car to drive into town.

The centre could be a great place to have more apartment-style buildings.

My husband Nick and I live in a one-bedroom flat very close to the centre. We have neither a garage nor a backyard, but it's big enough for us, well insulated, and close to everything.

I bet other young or even retired people might enjoy having the same option.

Unfortunately, most of the CBD residential developments announced so far seem to be on the high end of the market.

Yet, getting more people living in the CBD would solve some of Christchurch's problems.

It would alleviate car parking and traffic issues as central city residents would be more likely to walk, bike or use public transport.

Business owners in the CBD are already getting worried as empty lots used as carparks get work under way. Of course, we will need more devoted parking space as the CBD comes back to life - but I hope that more people will hop on their bike, walk or use public transport, too.

Central city residents would fill restaurants, cafes and shops, keeping them alive into the evening as well.

More businesses would open.

I'm looking forward to being able to bump into friends in the evening on my way home or meet at a bar with last-minute planning. But will there be enough affordable central city developments to halt the CBD's ghosting? I hope so.

Do you live in the CBD, or would you like to move there? Leave a comment, email me at cecile.meier@press.co.nz or follow me on twitter @CcileConscious. 

- The Press

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