Sunday, April 19, 2015

Christchurch CBD A Dead Heart?

A Christchurch investor group is pulling out of the city, citing a lack of tenants for high-rise office buildings.
Cristo Ltd has abandoned plans for the BNZ site in Cathedral Square,
"A good heart these days is hard to find..."
and wants to sell.
The building's an eyesore, half-demolished for more than 2yrs while developers and businesses head west to the banks of the Avon River.
Cristo director Stephen Bell says tenants are not interested in the site, so development plans have stalled: "The high-end tenants have settled elsewhere and are not interested in coming back into the CBD. The possibility of building offices in the city centre now seems quite remote." Cristo has had similar problems at its other properties, and has sold four other vacant sites: "We've basically shifted the bulk of our investment activities to Auckland."
Cristo's in dispute with CERA (Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority) over BNZ House: CERA dismantled seven storeys of the building during make-safe work in 2012, then handed it back to Cristo, despite the contract being for a complete demolition. The discovery of asbestos in the building did not help matters.
Other developers too are being forced to adapt post-earthquake to survive. The flamboyant Antony Gough is offering businesses pre-EQ rents to lure tenants to his hospitality precinct The Terrace.
Canterbury Property Investments, which bought the old Press building with plans to build a replica hotel, says the days of office towers around Cathedral Square are gone. It thinks the square better suits travellers, accommodation and hospitality.
Developer Richard Peebles feels the hold-up is lack of progress on the new convention centre and the cathedral.
It certainly looks like the CBD pattern has shifted to the west, rather than the traditional clustering around the square. Local and central government pace obviously must pick up, or Christchurch will be left with a cold and mostly dead heart...

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