Innovation Precinct draws them in!

getimage55It’s considered the star performer of Christchurch’s anchor projects. And it has taken the gravity effect – of larger bodies attracting smaller ones around them – to make it work. The Innovation Precinct has several buildings taking shape around the corner of Tuam and High streets. While anchor tenants gear up to shift in, smaller operators are rushing to book space alongside them. As a result, an estimated 1500 office workers will be in the precinct by next year.

Broadly designed as part of the city’s 2012 blueprint, the precinct is intended to be a cluster of knowledge, software, electronics and other tech-type businesses. Mixed-use zoning rules mean cultural and educational groups and restaurants and bars can join them. Public spaces and laneways created by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) will intersect the precinct, making space for work and play.

The precinct got off the drawing board when Auckland developers Studio D4 spotted land around the old Lichfield Lanes complex, signed up Kathmandu and Vodafone as tenants, and got approval for two new buildings. It then handed the project onto southern-based developer Calder Stewart. Others have followed. Christchurch developer Peebles Group took on the wrecked McKenzie and Willis building opposite and is putting up two new buildings behind its heritage facade, and renovating another on the site.

The old ANZ Chambers site on the High-Lichfield corner has just been sold for development, and a new project is understood to be proposed for the Excelsior site opposite. Hospitality businesses have also taken the leap of faith. Tenants including Brick Farm and Dux Central have joined existing operator C1 in taking space in repaired buildings, while others such as Joe’s Garage have leased space in those still under construction. CBRE leasing agent Bonnie Stone said the precinct was filling a gap in the market. Rents and operating costs were lower there than in other parts of the rebuild.

Stone said the culture was attracting ‘‘smaller less-corporate businesses, and tech businesses who want to be near the likes of Vodafone and Wynyard’’. ‘‘It’s a slightly different model to what’s being built in other parts of the city centre. With the new and refurbished old buildings and cool spaces, it’s not like where the big accountants and law firms are going. ‘‘We want everyone to come back in, not just the big tenants, to create the lively city everyone wants.’’

Fellow agent Ryan Geddes, of Savills, said the precinct had ‘‘really good legs’’. ‘‘It just took off with the commitment with the bigger firms.’’ First finished will be the Kathmandu headquarters and the carpark building, complete with art display screens, next door. Both have March completion dates. The Vodafone building and the Cera courtyard alongside it will be ready in April, and the Wynyard precinct opposite will be finished about September.

Meanwhile, the Government and Canterbury Development Corporation’s GreenHouse incubator for fledgling information tech businesses has opened, alongside hospitality places. Studio D4 has one last development planned in the block – a new office building three or four storeys high. Also going in are the Information and Communications Technology Graduate School, and government agency Callaghan Innovation.

The opening of the precinct is likely to trigger occupation of upper High St, which has stayed fenced off since the quakes. Paul Naylor, co-owner of Studio D4, said it just took a few bold businesses to encourage others to commit to space in the precinct. ‘‘I don’t think any one wanted to be there all alone in a desert. But now there’s a lot happening and it’s looking great – by next year we are going to have a prime area. ‘‘People have rushed to it, it’s fantastic.’’

Source:

  • Liz McDonald
  • The Press
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SCIRT, an update

getimage (7)The multi billion-dollar programme to fix Christchurch’s broken roads, bridges, footpaths and underground pipes is more than three-quarters complete.

But do not expect to see an end to the road cones and detours any time soon.

‘‘There is still a big programme to deliver even after Scirt winds up in December 2016,’’ said Christchurch City Council infrastructure rebuild general manager John Mackie.

The Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team (Scirt), which is funded by the council and the Government, has completed 78 per cent of its repair and rebuild programme and should have the balance of its work wrapped up by the end of next year.

As at the end of August it had repaired or replaced 420 km of wastewater pipe, 42 km of stormwater pipe, 79 km of freshwater pipe, and more than 1 million square metres of road.

It has also fixed or replaced 84 pump stations and reservoirs, 126 bridges and culverts, and 124 retaining walls.

That work has so far cost $1.72 billion. It is forecast another $472.5 million will be spent between now and the end of the programme.

Scirt executive general manager Ian Campbell said the team was working very hard to ensure it had all the construction it was scheduled to do completed by the December 2016 deadline.

Scirt’s priority had been to fix the worst of the damage first, starting in the east, but as the programme moved towards conclusion more work would begin in the city’s west.

With most of the major repair projects either completed or under way, some lower priority jobs could be tackled.

‘‘We are now getting into more patch repairs and trenchless stuff. The work is becoming more patchy and piecemeal so what that will look like for people is they will see us moving around a bit more. The traffic management will change more often because we’ll be doing small amounts of work in more locations,’’ Campbell said.

‘‘We appreciate the support of the community . . . It has been a long slog for them putting up with the road works and we just hope we can count on their support for one more year.’’

Mackie said he was ‘‘reasonably satisfied’’ with the progress that had been made on repairing and rebuilding the city’s damaged horizontal infrastructure, but there was still a lot to do.

Not all of that work would be covered by the Scirt programme because of funding constraints.

‘‘Not everything in the city will be fixed. There will still be work to do,’’ Mackie said.

‘‘The biggest issue is funding. We could do so much more if that wasn’t a constraint, but we have to work within the means of the organisations – Crown and council.’’

Once Scirt was wound-up, responsibility for any outstanding repairs would fall to the council.

It was working on a programme to prioritise those repairs and would start with main arterial roads before turning its attention to small collector and local roads, Mackie said.

Source:

  • Lois Cairns
  • The Press

$3billion fund for Christchurch rebuild

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2008 Beijing Olympic Stadium is a Guoxin past project

Christchurch’s rebuild will get a massive capital injection thanks to a Chinese company creating a $3 billion investment fund for city projects.

Guoxin International Development Company, part of a global firm worth about $500b, said on Wednesday it was committing to raise a $3b fund for investment opportunities in the city’s post quake rebuild and regeneration.

The company was behind the main stadium for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and has constructed railways across China.

Local developer Fred Rahme, who is behind the Silverstream residential subdivision in Kaiapoi and Styx Mill Estate, is leading the company in Christchurch. Rahme, a Guoxin founding partner, said several Christchurch projects had already been identified, but he would not name them.

Once projects went out for tender, Guoxin would submit bids for them.

‘‘We’ve established we do have a part to play and we can really add value. Where else in the world do you have an opportunity to build a new city?’’

Because of the company’s size, it could source materials from China and across the world at a cheaper cost, which could make projects more viable, Rahme said.

Guoxin, the largest tendering and procurement company in China, has completed $750b of projects, mostly governmental and infrastructure developments, in the past 16 years.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel signed a Letter of Cooperation and Friendship between the city council and Guoxin International on Tuesday. The letter is a non-binding agreement, and does not impose any legal or financial obligations or liabilities on the council or Guoxin.

Guoxin has also signed agreements this week with the Christchurch City Council, Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce, business advisory firm PwC, ANZ bank and law firm Cavell Leitch.

Dalziel said the move was a generous commitment from a large, reputable Chinese company.

Guoxin was confident it could win in an open tender process, she said. ‘‘I’m excited that our community will have the chance to work alongside this company as we shift our focus from recovery to regeneration.’’

Christchurch City Councillor Raf Manji said securing foreign capital had been a challenge for Christchurch.

‘‘There has been a lot of interest. We’ve had lots of visits over the previous years and we’ve not been able to execute, but we haven’t had the right platforms for investors.’’

The fund would set up a template for investment, Manji said.

‘‘The council’s role is at the political level, which is to roll out the welcome mat and say ‘Christchurch is open for business’.’’

Manji said the Guoxin deal was not exclusive. He hoped it would set the foundation for other investors.

‘‘The council is not responsible for the whole rebuild of the whole city. Our job is to make sure it can happen and we enable investors to come in and do what they need to do.’’

He named the stadium as an example of a project Guoxin might like.

‘‘It’s those type of larger scale projects that would be of interest.’’

Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce general manager Leeann Watson said Guoxin was making a significant commitment and the company’s willingness to work with Christchurch people was welcomed.

Source:

  • Tina Law
  • The Press
  • Photo: Reuters

Canterbury construction $4 billion and rising

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Metro Sports Facility

Construction spending in Christchurch has hit more than $4 billion thanks to large builds like the planned new Metro Sports Facility.

A million dollars is being spent on construction in Canterbury every two hours – and spending is still rising.

While residential building work has decreased for the first time in three years, commercial and public construction is ramping up, according to Statistics New Zealand.

More than $4.3 billion has been spent on building work in the region in the past year. The dollars going into non-residential construction have jumped 14.6  per cent in the last quarter, after increasing steadily over the past year as the rebuild ramps up.

Neil Kelly, building figures manager for Statistics New Zealand, said while many houses had already been replaced or repaired, commercial construction was still gathering speed.

“You only have to count the cranes. There’s a lot of big stuff going on and those big projects are boosting the numbers.”

Its figures translated to $83 million a week going into Canterbury’s construction industry, or nearly $12m a day.

They came from  its work in place survey, which measures the value of new residential and non-residential building, as well as alterations big enough to need consent. It does not include internal refurbishments or minor renovations, or non-building construction such as roads and other infrastructure.

Leighs Construction managing director Anthony Leighs said the commercial market was the busiest it had been in the post-quake environment.

“What we’re seeing in there’s probably the highest level of activity in the market at the moment than there’s ever been… from the total number of buildings being built across the city.”

Leighs believed the momentum would “remain very solid” for two to three more years.

The company’s “top of the pops projects” at the moment were “massive”, including the BNZ and ANZ centres, and the Burwood Hospital rebuild.

Hawkins Construction South Island regional manager Steve Taw agreed, saying the rebuild was “likely to continue at this current rate for at least another 12 months”.

He said the projects the company were working on were likely to be adding to the “ever increasing spend in the Christchurch commercial construction market”, but it was planned and not unexpected.

“It is pleasing to see confidence in our central city increasing with a number of projects in full swing.”

Ian Smith, head of project management company Building Intelligence Group in Christchurch, said while the central city skyline was full of private developers’ cranes, internal work on those buildings and the public sector spend was yet to come.

Rather than peaking , the rebuild would plateau as big projects such as they city’s new central library, Metro sports centre and convention centre got underway.

“There’s going to be quite a lot of money spent on all those buildings.”

Smith said while there were “hot spots” in construction such as the need for structural steel, the market would supply enough materials and labour in most areas.

“By and large the market has responded so far, and met demand.”

Source:

  • The Press

5 years since Christchurch changed

getimage (5)Five years ago today, 436,000 lives in Canterbury changed.

We did not know by how much or when we might return to normal, but we can agree that the upheaval started with a 7.1-magnitude earthquake 40 kilometers west of Christchurch just after 4.30 am on September 4, 2010.

The devastating aftershock that struck the city nearly six months later changed Canterbury on a much larger scale, but September was the start.

How do you measure and define the recovery? Dollars spent? Time elapsed? There is no right answer.

In truth, there are 436,000 different recoveries happening at once – one for every resident of Christchurch city and the Selwyn and Waimakariri districts.

No two versions of recovery are the same.

We have each taken stock of the process countless times and probably arrived at different conclusions for how the recovery is faring.

In the interests of providing the fullest answer possible, the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce (CECC) asked a cross-section of key players in the rebuild to report their progress by a handful of measures, including project size, completion date and value. Dozens responded.

This year, perhaps for the first time, that snapshot hints at conclusion. The Earthquake Commission has completed 97 per cent of its 69,081 building repairs and 80 per cent of 150,735 land claims. More than 80 per cent of all quake insurance claims are settled, according to the Insurance Council of New Zealand. The Stronger Canterbury Infrastructure Rebuild Team (Scirt) is 76 per cent through it $2.2 billion job of repairing the city’s roads and pipes. Almost all of the work in the central city (96 per cent) is finished.

The CECC asked respondents when they expected to finish their work. Some major projects, including the central city bus interchange and the ‘‘Deloitte’’ building on Cambridge Tce, are already finished. Next year looms as a big leap forward with a cluster of retail developments – the BNZ Centre, the ANZ Centre on the old Triangle Centre site, the Crossing and the Terrace – all scheduled for completion.

‘‘I would think by the end of next year, October 2016, when the heart of that central city retail offering is up and operational . . . you’re going to see a major shift,’’ CECC chief executive Peter Townsend said. ‘‘You’re going to see people coming back into the central city in ways that we haven’t seen for five years.’’

A Cera report from July estimated the rebuild – measured as progress in residential, nonresidential and civil construction – was 41 per cent complete. Of the three categories, only residential construction spending was trending down. The other two were steady or climbing. The peak for all construction in the city (including business-as-usual building) is shaping as the last quarter of 2016, when Cera estimates $1.3b will be spent.

The idea the rebuild was already peaking was ‘‘fallacious’’, Townsend said. He puts progress at somewhere between 35 and 40 per cent. The decline, when it did come, would be gradual. ‘‘We’re not going to fall off a cliff. The Government’s assessment of the end of this earthquake recovery phase is 2026. We’re going to taper off.’’

In construction terms, Cera estimated that would translate to a decline from the late 2016 spending peak to about $500m in the final quarter of 2021. By then, Christchurch will have almost spent all of the $40b recovery bill.

‘‘That [spending] has an impact on the future of Christchurch that I don’t think people have factored in,’’ Townsend said. ‘‘I’ve often been challenged by people saying ‘We’re only replacing what we’ve lost.’ No we’re not. It’s all new. We are recreating a city.

‘‘I don’t know anywhere in the world where $40b has been tipped into a population of 360,000 people to recreate a city. It’s unique.’’

The bulk of the money will filter through the economy via insurance payouts (according to the Insurance Council, commercial and residential quake claims are about 88 per cent and 84 per cent settled respectively) but some will arrive through big ticket developments. The University of Canterbury will spend $1.2b on its redevelopment by 2022, including new engineering ($145m) and science ($216m) facilities due by 2016 and 2017. The Ministry of Education’s $1.1b Christchurch Schools Rebuild programme includes the rebuild of 115 schools. The $900m redevelopment of Lyttelton port – a mix of quake repairs and expansion – will continue until 2042.

As those time frames suggest, the rebuild was never going to be a five-year job. Charles Eadie, who led the rebuild of Santa Cruz city after the 1989 San Francisco earthquake, told Fairfax Media the recovery reached a ‘‘turning point’’ six years after the quake and most work was completed after 10 years.

‘‘I think we’ll look back on this period of our lives and say . . . we were hopelessly optimistic when it came to time frames,’’ Townsend said. ‘‘We all thought we’d be over this in five years. No, we won’t.’’

The statement is truer of some things than others – Scirt prioritising central city infrastructure repairs over suburban ones, for example.

‘‘I don’t want us to get to 10 years and think that we’re in that kind of state we won’t be able to reflect very positively on our journey,’’ Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said.

The focus brought on the central city by the recovery blueprint and the magnitude of the task of repairing broken parts of eastern Christchurch posed that risk, she said.

Source:

The Press

More funds for anchor project

sports-03The Government is pledging additional money to Christchurch’s metro sports facility but will not reveal how much.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee announced Tuesday Cabinet had agreed to increase Crown contribution to the major anchor project, above the $70.3 million planned in the 2013 cost sharing agreement with the Christchurch City Council.

The council committed $147m to the project.

“To ensure maintenance of a competitive tendering process, we won’t be revealing the agreed financial cap on the Crown’s commitment to delivery of the facility at this time,” Brownlee said.

While the design of the facility was still to take place, the agreed funding package meant it would include:

– An indoor aquatic hall with a 79m, 10-lane competition pool and spectator seating for 1000 people

– A 10m diving tower and warm water pool

– A learn-to-swim pool

– A leisure water area, with outdoor hot pools and two hydroslides

– Nine indoor courts for sports such as netball, basketball, futsal, floor ball, and other indoor sports, including retractable seating for 2500 spectators and function/VIP areas

– Sport New Zealand’s high performance area, which will include facilities for athletes and space for administration

– A large gym/weights facility, with up to five group fitness/multi-purpose rooms and sports health consulting rooms and facilities

– Four studio spaces for movement activity like dance

– A Sports House for administration of different sports

– A café, childcare facility and car parking for 500 vehicles (with the ability to expand in the future)

Previous plans for the facility included a 50-metre competition pool, and an complex with eight indoor courts and 2800 seats.

Sport Canterbury chief executive Julyan Falloonsaid it was great to finally have details of the project.

“We’ve been waiting for so long. It’s a great day for us,” he said.

The sports community could now plan transitional facilities and future competitions and events with more certainty.

“Now it’s about urgency to get the thing built and utilised,” Falloon said.

Netball Mainland chief executive Brigit Hearn said she was “extremely excited”.

“It’s fabulous news. It’s the end of the tunnel for us – now we can move forward and plan ahead.”

Netball Mainland had advocated for 12 courts but Hearn said getting nine courts was “certainly an improvement from where we’re at at the moment”.

The metro sport facility was initially planned to be built by early 2016 but the Government earlier this year pushed the completion date to 2020.

It is understood the business case was rejected when it finally reached the Beehive in May because costs had blown out.

Brownlee said Tuesday the intention was to open the facility to the public in 2019 and the remainder in 2020.

“As we work through the facility’s design and construction we will be looking closely at what opportunities there are to shorten those timeframes,” he said.

The Government had already purchased most of the land required to develop the facility on a central Christchurch site spanning over 70,000 square metres between Moorhouse Ave, Stewart St, St Asaph St and Antigua St.

The business case for the facility was “strong”, with more than two million visits to the facility a year expected once it opened, Brownlee said.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel welcomed the announcement.

“The earthquakes have had a massive impact on the region’s sporting facilities and I’m confident this new centre will reignite sport and recreation participation rates, and be another good reason to live in the central city,” she said.

Source:

  • Stuff.co.nz

Christchurch Soldiers On!

1431085048320Construction activity in Christchurch may well have plateaued, but rumours of the demise of the earthquake-induced construction boom have been greatly exaggerated, says Hugh De Lacy. You can’t drop $40 billion in insurance and government money on a region of fewer than half a million people without creating a construction boom, even if initially most of the money is spent on urgent demolition and repairs. Once those two phases were completed, new construction would continue to drive the regional economy for years to come.

That would seem to be the wisdom derived from Canterbury’s recovery from the earthquakes of 2010-2011, and rumours that the reconstruction phase has run its course and there’s a rapid wind-down in effect simply can’t be substantiated. The fact is that while most of the demolition of buildings, and the repair and reconstruction of infrastructure are well advanced, and despite Fletcher Earthquake Recovery (EQR) winding up its $4 billion residential repairs programme at the end of this year, construction is still booming in Christchurch and throughout the Canterbury region.

That’s not to say there isn’t a shakedown under way, and that a lot of smaller companies are dropping out of the game, especially in the painting and decorating niches of the building construction sector. But according to John Ombler, acting chief executive of the Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA), there’s still growth in overall rebuild construction.

“The forecasts tell us that we can expect peak activity in construction through to about 2017, before an easing expected in 2018,” Ombler told Contractor. There are, however, variations in the level of activity of the various construction sectors.

“For example, EQC’s [the Earthquake Commission’s] Canterbury home repair programme is largely complete [but] at the same time there is still considerable repair and rebuild happening, and a huge amount of public sector work still in the pipeline.” This includes schools, tertiary institutions, health facilities like Christchurch hospital, the Metro Sports Facility and the East Frame residential neighbourhood. “We have just seen the opening of Christchurch’s new $53 million Bus Interchange, and work on the Justice and Emergency Precinct is well progressed.” Ombler said that overall building consent figures are on “a steady upward trend that we have seen every year since 2012”.

He noted that SCIRT, the Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team of leading contractors charged with the rebuild of the city horizontal infrastructure, is 70 percent of the way through its work programme. “Indicators such as economic growth and employment continue to show Canterbury leading the performance of major centres in New Zealand,” Ombler says. That may well be the case overall, but at the lower end of the food chain there are persistent reports of smaller entities falling over or copping out.

Paul Robertson, the principal of mid-sized construction and earthworks company Civil and Land, based in Amberley, North Canterbury, reckons there’s a slump in the work available for companies like his, which has a permanent workforce of about 20.He cites the case of the Hurunui District Council, the northernmost of the three districts and the city affected by the quakes, tendering out a five to 10 year road maintenance contract. “I’ve never seen so many contractors apply for it: you usually only get two or three, but 12 main contractors have applied for this one – which just shows there’s no confidence in the rebuild because contractors are now looking for work in the longer term,” Robertson said.

However, he did cite meeting health and safety (H&S) and compliance measures as a major burden for smaller firms. Fletcher EQR’s arrival on the local residential scene turned it upside down with its insistence on big-company H&S and compliance standards, and its assigning work to only those contractors and subcontractors who had passed through its induction process. Even in things like traffic management, small companies are struggling to get employees formally qualified to put out traffic cones, just so they’re entitled to tick the appropriate boxes on the paperwork. “Everything is bits of paper today, and if you don’t pull your bits of paper out you don’t get started,” Robertson says.

But while painters and decorators might be abandoning Christchurch for the fairer fields of Auckland residential construction, they’re not flooding car yards with second-hand ex-leased utes at Christchurch Airport as one rumour has it. David Crawford, chief executive of the Motor Industry Association of New Zealand, was quite upbeat when contacted by Contractor.

Sales figures of light commercials are still “staggering” nationwide, having gone up 25 percent in 2013, 19 percent in 2014, and 14 percent in the year to date. Crawford says luxury vehicle sales, the lead indicator of demand changes for new vehicles – which forewarned of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis by slumping 12 months before it, and afterwards began to recover about 10 months before the rest of the market – were still going strong, up “very slightly” this year compared to last.

And Dion Jones, general manager of Turners Auctions, the country’s biggest motor vehicle auction house, said repossessions and arrears in the light commercial sector were “as low as they’ve ever been”. This was despite companies “discounting the pants” off new vehicles to encourage buyers to ante up the extra couple of thousand dollars for a new vehicle rather than a used one.

So the shape of the Christchurch rebuild may be changing, and there may be challenges for small companies to adapt to the paperwork requirements of H&S and other forms of compliance, but the volume of work remains high. Brian Warren, chief executive of Christchurch’s Isaac Construction, summed it up by saying there may have been a drop-off in demand, “but it’s not as if it’s come to the top of a steep curve and dropped off the other side in a steep curve either. “That said, we certainly noticed a drop-off at the beginning of this calendar year. It’s come back a little bit now, but certainly it’s less than it was 12 months ago.”

That most telling barometer of economic activity, employment, bears Warren’s assessment out: Canterbury added 11,900 new jobs in the latest March year, though this was down from a peak of 34,000 added in the year to the end of last September, with most of those increases coming in the construction and food services industries.

Source:

  • Charles Fairbairn
  • contractormag.co.nz
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