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Some commercial rebuilding is under way in central Christchurch – but none of it is within the new city blueprint.
The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority’s rebuild plan has frozen development until the central planners finalise designs and complete compulsory acquisition of 850 properties.
Property owners in Cashel St want to get started on replacing the temporary container precinct but cannot do so until CERA unveils its “master plan”.
This will dictate the size and shape of buildings and street layout.
The rebuild in the main retail street will disrupt the temporary retail activity and also anchor retailer Ballantynes.
But car parking hassles are also helping to complete the earthquakes’ job of driving residents out of the central Cashel St area.
Developer Andrew Mason tells a tale familiar to hundreds, if not thousands, of locals.
Cashel St may seem like an oasis in a grey desert but the signs make it clear that parking in any of the empty sections is inviting a towaway.
Last weekend Mr Mason went to Ballantynes in two vehicles to buy school clothing for his large family comprising six children and two adults.
He did the right thing, parking on a corner parking area and paid the couple of dollars parking fee for each vehicle.
They spent more than $1000 on clothing and other items, mollified the kids with smoothies, a souvlaki and stopping to listen to the busking band.
This took a little extra time. When they returned to the vehicles he found he had two $55 fines.
“The kids said ‘we told you so, we should have gone to Farmers in Riccarton. What a waste of money, we won’t go there again’. And they are likely right, sadly, because l prefer shopping at Ballys.
“All they will ever remember of that day is the money we wasted parking and the word nincompoop which they now use regularly to describe people who do stupid things – like their parents when they suggest going into the city to shop.
A city council spokesperson says the park was a private one because the council charges $12 for parkers who are over time, and $40 for parkers who fail to buy a "park and display" ticket.
Meanwhile, buildings are under way or completed in peripheral streets such as Salisbury St (a new Briscoes), opposite Alice In Videoland on Manchester St, new strip shops in Barbadoes and Stanmore Sts about 1km from the city centre, Victoria St and other locations.
They have gone ahead because they are all outside the frame of the Central City Development Unit’s centrally planned vision.