Anchor projects cause anxiety!

1431085048320Canterbury sports enthusiasts and businesses are “hugely disappointed” and frustrated two of Christchurch’s major anchor projects will be delayed.

The Government on Friday said completion of the metro sports facility would be delayed to early 2020 and the convention centre to late 2018.

Concern is also growing for Cathedral Square’s renovation with ASB Bank pulling out of plans for a new regional headquarters there.

Indoor sports players, swimmers and other athletes have all been waiting keenly for the metro sports facility to open but will now have to wait three more years.

The centre was initially supposed to be finished by March 2017.

Mainland Netball chief executive Bridget Hearn said the news was “hugely disappointing” for indoor sport in Canterbury.

Five years was an “incredibly long wait” and lack of indoor space in the city was problematic.

“I know we have to be patient, and we are very excited about the metro sports facility, but we have had to turn away junior teams for lack of space.”

Rugby had transitional facilities, she said, but indoor and womens sports had been left in the lurch.

Canterbury Sport chief executive Julyan Falloon said there was “real frustration” at the delay.

Aquatic and indoor sports had been “hugely compromised” since the earthquakes, he said, and organisations would find it hard to plan ahead for infrastructure across the city.

School Sport Canterbury regional sports director Bill Grogan said the delay meant students would miss out on tournament opportunities.

“Canterbury students have to keep travelling for national tournaments as we can’t host any at the moment.”

The tourism and business community was also counting on an opening date for the convention centre in late 2017.

Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend said progress on the centre was “disappointingly slow” and caused uncertainty among business owners and investors.

“People need to plan ahead. We keep getting these delays and this causes uncertainty about when it will actually happen.”

Christchurch and Canterbury Convention Centre Bureau (CCCCB) manager Caroline Blanchfield said the delay was “disappointing” but she hoped the centre would be open in time for a large health conference booked in November 2018.

The Asia-Oceania Conference of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine would bring 800 delegates and an estimated $2.1 million to the city.

She said a “back-up plan” was in place in case the centre was not finished in time.

With the convention centre delays, the halving of the size of the performing arts precinct, and no sign of an answer on the future of Christ Church Cathedral, fears were rising that Cathedral Square was becoming toxic for development.

ASB bank announced in December 2013 it would be the anchor tenant for a four-storey office block to be developed at 9 Cathedral Square, on the site of the previous ANZ building.

However, ASB spokesman Christian May said the bank broke off negotiations with Central City Estates, the family investor group that owns the site, in December 2014.

May said ASB was now talking to developers of other “high profile CBD sites” and still expected to reopen somewhere by late 2016.

Ernest Duval, of the City Owners Rebuild Entity (Core), was unsure who would be booking conventions while the square’s future remained so uncertain.

“The pressing issue is to break the impasse on the cathedral and address some of these buildings like [the half-demolished BNZ House], [and] try and move things forward, because we’re missing out on hundreds of millions of dollars worth of development,” he said.

Christchurch Central Development Unit director Baden Ewart said the Crown’s commitment to the vision of the blueprint had not changed.

Time frames had been reviewed and the public would be updated on them “as often as we can”.

Source:

  • The Press
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