Earthquake authority hunts investors, tenants in countrywide roadshow

GERRY BROWNLEE: Says convention centre land should be cleared by August

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) is taking an investment roadshow around the main centres between February 18 and March 6.

Cera representatives along with staff from subsidiary Christchurch Central Development Unit will seek investors and tenants at the roadshows for various anchor projects to rebuild amentities destroyed by the February 2011 earthquake.

They will target institutional and high-end investors as well as companies and tenants.

The roadshow itinerary was sent out late last week, just days after Prime Minister John Key flew into the city for a photo opportunity turning the sod at a rubble-covered site in what is destined to become part of a justice precinct.

He and Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee gave a cheerleading report about the government’s commitment to several anchor projects.

But the roadshow suggests that funding and the composition of tenants is still up in the air.

The roadshow starts at the Dunedin Art Gallery on February 18, Invercargill’s Ascot Park on February 19, at Queenstown’s Crown Plaza February 20, Nelson’s Rutherford Hotel February 26, Wellington’s James Cook Hotel on February 27 and Auckland’s Pullman Hotel on March 6. The Auckland function will feature several sessions aimed at institutions and potential tenants plus companies wishing to take part in the recovery.

Earlier in the week Mr Brownlee revealed about three-quarters of the land required for a Christchurch convention precinct has been purchased by the Crown.

His assurances about the rebuild come after wide-ranging criticism and questioning of the impetus for the central city Christchurch rebuild from business leaders and main media outlet editorials.

Residential repairs continue at glacial speed, with work on the majority of the most damaged homes yet to begin and or insurance claims yet to be settled by EQC. 

Central city commercial rebuilding in the post-2011 earthquake era has been on land controlled by developers while the Cera-controlled areas remain a rubble wasteland. Several new low-rise office buildings are being completed in fringe areas like Addington and Victoria St, absorbing current demand for new office space. 

Mr Brownlee says the convention centre land in Cathedral Square should be cleared by August, with construction completion scheduled for 2017.

Proposals from prospective operators and design and development consortia for the convention centre precinct are due back with Cera in March for evaluation.

Work on a bus interchange is still at the demolition stage with design plans being developed. Foundation work is expected “by the second quarter of the year,” he says. 

Cera has appointed a consortium led by Athfield Architects to produce a retail precinct plan. 

Mr Brownlee also noted that five large vacant sites comprising the north and east frames of the new CBD have been grassed this month. The area is destined for housing for 2000 people.

Other work under way includes a beautification project for the Avon River.

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