Crisis hits flagship Christchurch CBD development

Antony Gough

Christchurch’s first big flagship central business district retail development is on hold.

Rich Lister Antony Gough announced a “pause” in the Oxford St venture pending revised design options “against market demands and also supply chain costs, options and efficiencies.”

Foundation work has been under way for several weeks. Mr Gough has been funding it from his own resources.

His decision comes as more developers and investors complain the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority has stifled the rebuild with impossibly difficult rules and paying so much to acquire city properties that it makes commercial rents unaffordable.

The crisis in confidence of central business district developers contrasts with the frenzy of commercial construction around the fringe of the city along Durham and Victoria Sts, Papanui Rd, Moorhouse Ave and Lincoln Rd, Addington.

Businesses have signed up on long-term leases in these places and show few signs of beating a path back to the central city.

Even the buildings that lawyers and accountants who have signed up for are on the edge of the old central business district in Durham St.

Crown agencies have reportedly signed up for 24,000sq m of space in four new buildings. Work has yet to begin on any of them. The central city remains largely a rubble wasteland three years after the last major earthquake.

CERA has issued numerous calls for expressions of interest in various Crown projects but none of them have got beyond initial design stages.

Mr Gough dropped the bombshell on the same day Prime Minister John Key was officially opening a recentlycompleted building in lower High Street.

Only one media outlet attended the Prime Minister’s ribbon-cutting, suggesting weariness at his weekly photo opportunities.

NBR understands CERA approached the developers of the High St property last week about the photo opportunity

c.hutch@clear.net.nz

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