International hotel group buys Cathedral Square site for new hotel

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A major Japanese hotel and tourism group has bought land in Cathedral Square for just over $7 million to build a big hotel. The 2000sq m vacant property runs from Cathedral Sq to Gloucester St. It is part of the former Press site.  The deal has been called a vote of confidence in Cathedral Square, which has been a slow starter in the rebuild. The project will bring the number of existing and planned hotel rooms in the central city to about 2500. Christchurch lost more than three quarters of its 3700 hotel rooms in the earthquakes.

Former owner Canterbury Property Investments had been struggling to develop their own hotel on the site when the company was approached to sell, said director Miles Yeoman. Confidentiality agreements mean the hotel group’s identity has not yet been disclosed. It is understood to be new to Christchurch and will own, build and run the hotel.  “I understand they are going to move fairly quickly to build a big hotel,” Yeoman said. “We’re disappointed we couldn’t make something work ourselves, but this is great news for Christchurch, and for that part of the Square.”

Noel Gilchrist from commercial real estate firm Colliers, who brokered the deal, said the hotel would be “significant”, and would cover the whole site. Council rules mean the building could be up to 28 metres high. “They are working on the hotel plans. They like the site and it will be large-scale,” he expected the hotel would be “at least five-star”. The sale was settled on Wednesday. The $7.1m price was nearly double the $3.598m Yeoman’s company, Canterbury Property Investments, paid for the land in 2014.

The new owner is the properties fourth since the earthquakes. Development plans including an office building, a replica of the former Press newspaper building, and a Quest hotel have been proposed and abandoned in that time. The land is now used for car parking. The news follows last month’s announcement that developer Nexus Point will build new offices for telecommunications company Spark on the former BNZ House site. Gilchrist said the hotel news signaled confidence not just in Cathedral Square, but in the whole central city.

“It’s a vote of confidence of what is happening. We are getting a convention centre, the library is going in, and there are new office blocks going up. It gives the purchaser confidence that they are in the right place. “Add to that the tourism boom, and the fact that we’re short of hotel rooms. This is a good outcome all round.” He said that despite the amount of vacant land in the central city, sites suitable for top-class hotels were scarce as the operators wanted an outlook over a park, square or river. “Christchurch is on the radar of overseas buyers because New Zealand is a popular destination from Asia. We’ve been contacted by a number of hotel chains wanting sites for hotels.”

What about the other Hotels?

  • Already under way in Cathedral Square is the conversion of the former Millennium Hotel into Distinction Christchurch hotel. It should open by early next year.
  • The former Forsyth Barr office building opposite Victoria Square is being redeveloped as the new Crowne Plaza hotel, which is due to open this year.
  • A Holiday Inn Express is planned for Gloucester St between Press House and Cathedral Junction.
  • The Millennium chain is understood to be looking for a new site in or around Cathedral Square.
  • The Peterborough hotel will be built opposite Christchurch Casino.
  • Canterbury Property Investments will build a Quest hotel on the corner of Manchester and Southwark streets.
  • An apartment-style hotel is planned for Colombo St just north of Kilmore St.
  • The former Rydges hotel building may be repaired and reopened, but its owners are in insurance disputes.

Source:

  • Liz McDonald
  • co.nz
  • Photo: Iain McGregor

Rebuild falling behind

Two years ago this month, The Press consulted developers, landowners, local leaders and recovery plans to form a picture of how Christchurch might look in February 2016.

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Comparing 2013 schedules with progress made two years later makes for sobering reading. Timelines have changed several times and projects that were supposed to have started by now have stalled or been delayed months, if not years.

For some, the blueprint is to blame. The planning and designing phase has taken longer than expected in some cases and involved land acquisitions and zoning difficulties. Major anchor projects have been continually delayed, causing uncertainty for private developers and investors.

Even the quake memorial, which was supposed to be ready for the fifth anniversary of the February 2011 earthquake in 2016, has been delayed another year.

According to 2013 forecasts, construction of the convention centre should have started by December last year and work on the stadium and the metro sports facility by March this year. But no work has begun on any of the sites – the three major anchor projects have been delayed by several years. The Government has offered little explanation for the delays, despite developers and the community demanding answers this week.

getimage (2)This led to speculation that convention-centre costs were spiralling out of control and that Cabinet had rejected a business case for the metro sports facility.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee scotched those rumours this week. No business case had been rejected for the facility, he said. Budgets were ‘‘always revised’’ on any building project, ‘‘whether it’s a garden shed, a front fence or a convention centre’’.

‘‘I think everyone should relax and recognise that these types of facilities are going to be around for decades and you’ve got one shot at getting them right at the start.’’

Brownlee was ‘‘pretty relaxed’’ at the delays.

‘‘It’s just a matter of getting things right before you start pouring concrete on the ground.’’

Preliminary work – business cases, designs and plans – was ‘‘a good investment’’.

Brownlee said the city needed the convention centre and the metro sports facility and confirmed the projects would go ahead despite delays.

In Christchurch’s CBD, all major demolitions should have been completed more than a year ago but the Manchester St car park, Calendar Girls on Hereford St, the Orion building, and Westende House are still to be pulled down.

The stalling of Anthony Gough’s Terrace development was another blow for the central city’s development. It should have been completed in September this year but is running a year behind schedule. On the bright side, a rash of new buildings will be completed in the nearby retail precinct next year, including The Crossing, Cashel Square, The Terrace and the ANZ Centre.

getimage (3)The performing arts precinct has also stalled. Ground was broken last month for construction a 300-seat concert hall for the centre for music and the arts, but Christchurch art organisations are still waiting for the Government to pull together a deal for the rest of the precinct on a block bounded by Gloucester, Armagh, New Regent and Colombo streets.

The residential red zone was scheduled to be cleared last year. The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) has made good progress but has extended the housing demolition deadline to June 2015. The land clearance will not be completed until April 2016.

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) is also behind schedule. Land-claim settlements should have been completed at the end of last year but complex types of damage have emerged.

The Christchurch City Council has pushed back the opening of the central city library near Cathedral Square by about 18 months, to early 2018.

The design phase and land acquisition took longer than expected, the council says. Site clearance is under way and the council expects to get access to it in July.

The Margaret Mahy playground, on the old centennial pool site, is also running a year behind but should be open in time for the Christmas school holidays.

In 2016, Christchurch can expect the Avon River precinct and the south frame to be nearing completion, a year behind schedule.

It is not all doom and gloom. Some projects were completed almost on time and others are well on target.

Last year, the new Stranges building on High St opened only a few months later than planned. The same goes for the Isaac Theatre Royal, which opened six months later than expected.

The new bus interchange on Tuam St should be fully operational next month, as planned, and work on the justice and emergency services precinct is under way.

EQC is on track to complete its home repairs by the end of the year. The massive task of repairing Christchurch’s pipes and roads is on track for completion at the end of 2016.

Cera acting chief executive John Ombler said the Crown’s commitment to the vision of the blueprint had not changed.

‘‘What has changed are delivery times. We still have some business processes to go through, that’s just a fact . . . and we’ve made a commitment to update [the community] as frequently as we can.’’

Source:

  • The Press

Wall of remembrance for Christchurch

getimage (3)A 150-metre-long marble wall etched with victims’ names is the centerpiece of the official Christchurch earthquake memorial.

But the tribute will not be ready for the fifth anniversary of the quake in February 2016 as initially planned.

Slovenian architect Grega Vezjak’s memorial design – The Memorial Wall – was picked from six shortlisted entries.

It will include a marble wall on the Oxford Tce side of the Avon River, near the Durham St intersection, with a row of trees and a riverside promenade. Cherry trees to honour the Japanese victims were initially suggested but no decision on the species has been made.

A bridge at the end of the promenade will cross to the north bank of the river where a smaller space will provide a contemplative place for families who lost loved ones in the quakes.

The memorial was initially due to be ready by February 2016. It is now scheduled to be finished in 2017 although the contemplative space will be finished by the earlier date.

It will be built using up to $10 million from the Government and $1m from the mayoral relief fund.

Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) memorial development director Rob Kerr said the winning design was the most complex to build, hence the delay.

‘‘Doing it too quickly means that we lose the value of the [grieving] process.’’

Vezjak said it was ‘‘a great responsibility and honour’’ to design the memorial.

‘‘When I started the competition, I didn’t really know about Christchurch except what was in the news. I did a lot of research at home.

Source:

  • Cecile Meier
  • The Press

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

New Plans for Cathedral Square

cathsqr

A six-storey office and retail block on the former ANZ House site could be the first major rebuild in Cathedral Square…

For more follow the link below;

http://www.christchurchrebuild.co.nz/?p=1407

Christchurch Mayor shares his vision for Christchurch Cathedral

In one of the most ambitious Christ Church Cathedral concepts yet, Bob Parker is calling for the historical ruins to be encased in a ‘‘crystalline structure’’ to serve as a reminder to the past.

The Christchurch Mayor has waded into the heated debate over the fate of the cathedral, but he comes armed with a bold vision.

He has suggested retaining as much of the cathedral’s walls as possible, restoring the grand organ and pews, removing the cracked and weathered roof to expose the rafters and beams, and building a glass case over the ruins to open the building up to the stars.

Cathedral in Glass

 

The crystalline cloak would shield the cathedral from the elements but still allow church-goers to worship and visitors to wander through the remains of the original building.

His plan has been pitched to Anglican leaders but was yet to receive a price tag.

Parker envisaged stained glass windows suspended mid-air by wire, a glass structure being lit up from the inside at night and a rebuilt spire shooting out of the encasement to become the tallest point in the city.

The mayor said he found his inspiration from Norway’s HedmarkMuseum, which has a huge glass encasement protecting the ruins of the Hamar Cathedral.

Parker said he had been chewing the idea over for about six months and wanted to unveil it publicly to get feedback from the community and generate discussion about the possibility.

So far, he had raised his plan with a number of people, including Bishop Victoria Matthews who ‘‘positively received’’ it, he said.

The argument over the future of Christchurch’s broken cathedral has polarised the community and wound up in a High Court battle, leaving the beloved building exposed to the elements for nearly two years.

Parker believed it was time to wind up the fight.

‘‘I don’t believe we should ever reconstruct and build the thing as it was. We should try to retain as much of the old, but not cover up what has happened here by rebuilding it to new,’’ he said.

Within three generations, memories of the February 2011 earthquake would be scarce and Parker suggested the city ‘‘send a message to the future’’.

‘‘We cannot ever completely forget what happened here, nor should we. We need something to tell that story, we need to retain one structure that is a record of what took place and I think the cathedral should be that project,’’ he said.

  • The Press
  • Olivia Carville olivia.carville@press.co.nz

Christchurch City Council Wants Cathedral Square Reopened

The Christchurch City Council wants Cathedral Square reopened, with public entertainment areas created to breathe life into the central city.

With the permanent redevelopment of the Square still three years away, the council has applied for planning permission to build an ‘‘interim public space’’ so people can use the Square in the meantime.

A panel of commissioners considered the council’s resource consent application on Tuesday and a decision on whether the proposed development should be allowed to proceed is due by the end of this week.

Mayor Bob Parker said yesterday the council was keen to see at least part of the Square reopened to the public as soon as possible.

‘‘I just think there is a huge symbolic value to it. It’s reclaiming another part of our city,’’ he said.

‘‘So many people have said to me they are counting down the days till it is open again.

‘‘The revitalisation of Cathedral Square will be the catalyst to connecting the important regrowth areas of the central business district such as Re: Start, New Regent St and Worcester Blvd.’’

The Square has been closed to the public since the February 2011 earthquake, apart from two weekends this year when a walkway was opened so people could go into the area and see the quake damage.

During that time more than 32,000 people visited the Square.

Under the council’s proposal for the Square, creative hoardings, plantings and seating would be used to create a temporary performance space.

The police kiosk would be transformed into an information booth, temporary toilets would be put in place and lighting added so the area could be used at night.

‘‘The scale and shape of the interim space will vary depending on demolition and rebuild activity on adjacent private sites and the phasing of the Square redevelopment,’’ Parker said.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority said it supported the council’s plans but it could not put a time frame on when the Square might be reopened.

Buildings in the Square still needed to be demolished, including the former Government Life building.

‘‘We have been working closely with the council and Scirt [Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team] for some time on what needs to be done to get the Square in a state that will allow public access,’’ a spokeswoman said.

‘‘Infrastructure repairs, demolitions, hazardous waste removal, access, lighting, haul routes and the health and safety of the workers will all be considered as part of the opening criteria.’’

 

  • Source: the Press
  • Lois Cairns lois.cairns@press.co.nz
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