Christchurch Convention Centre makes progress

convention centre

Artists impression of the convention centre from Victoria Square

Christchurch’s new convention centre could pull in $400 million in its first eight years, its developer says. Crown development company Otakaro Limited released new information and design images of the project on last week. “We want to create an attractive facility for Christchurch, that draws people towards the centre and its associated cafes and shops,” Otakaro chief executive Albert Brantley said.

The design allows the Christchurch Convention Centre to host events with up to 2000 people. It will include a 1400-delegate auditorium, a 3600-square metre exhibition hall, and 1600sqm of meeting rooms overlooking Victoria Square. “Estimates put the direct economic benefit of the convention centre to the Canterbury region at $300m to $400m in its first eight years of operation,” Brantley said.

auditorium

The auditorium is designed to seat 1400

Christchurch and Canterbury Convention Bureau (CCCB) manager Caroline Blanchfield said Christchurch had just 9 per cent of the national conference market, and attracted very few conferences from Australia. Before the old conference centre was damaged in the February 2011 earthquake, Christchurch had 24 per cent of New Zealand’s conference market and 42 per cent of the conferences that came from Australia.

Blanchfield said international organisations had approached her about coming to the city, but would not do so without a fully-equipped conference centre. “We have unmet demand for conferencing in Christchurch.” The new centre is due for completion in 2019, and Blanchfield said Christchurch was already bidding for conferences from mid-2020 onwards. “It’s vitally important that it stays on schedule from now on. We don’t want to lose another year’s opportunity,” she said.

The Government originally planned to finish the centre in 2017, and it missed out on its first contract for a conference in 2018 due to fears it would not be finished in time. Blanchfield said international convention delegates spent twice as much as other international visitors, often extended their visit to other parts of the South Island, and were likely to return for holidays.

convention interior

Artists impression if the convention centre interior

Brantley said Woods Bagot architects and Matapopore Charitable Trust designed the building to reflect the South Island landscape. The main entrance, featuring curves reminiscent of Canterbury braided rivers, will open to Oxford Terrace and the Avon River. The Armagh St and Colombo St sides are straighter, holding to the traditional edges of Victoria Square and Cathedral Square, and the restored Lady Isaac building. The plan incorporates hospitality and retail outlets into the Colombo St side of the centre, and space has been set aside for a potential hotel. The Armagh St side will include areas for public use with a view of Victoria Square.

Earthworks on the site are well under way and a main works contractor is expected to be appointed about July. Archaeologists have found “bear grease” hair product, children’s cutlery, and 1840’s pharmaceuticals among other artifacts at the site. “A lot of the stuff we’re finding at the convention centre is relatively early for Christchurch,” Underground Overground Archaeology’s Jessie Garland said. The artifacts were found among cellar walls, a well, and rubbish pits dating back to the mid-19th Century. Garland said archaeological works would not delay earthworks for the convention centre.

Source:

  • The Press
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Crane’s on the up!

b05da9d38926ca2edb40cabe148a38a0ab0f51fd_620x310The Rider Levett Bucknall Crane Index revealed that Auckland is the country’s crane capital with 33 followed by Christchurch with 31.

Auckland director Chris Haines said there were now 79 cranes up nationally and the busiest sectors were commercial followed by multi-level residential buildings.

In the past six months 43 new cranes were installed nationally: 17 in Auckland and 23 in Christchurch.

The crane count provides a good, simple indication of new building activity as well as general economic activity in each of these locations, the business said.

The index tracked activity in the last quarter in Auckland and showed that within the commercial sector, three cranes were erected including on Datacom in Gaunt St and at Britomart. Commercial projects nearing completion include the St Albans development and Mansons in Victoria St West, Rider Levett Bucknall said.

“The Wynyard Quarter currently has three tower cranes. While five cranes have been removed from residential sites , 10 have been erected. New projects include The Pulse, Symonds St, Wakefield St, Augustus Tce, Rosedale Rd, Swanson St, Rangitiri Rd and Windsor Park,” Rider said. “Cranes have been removed from Howe St, Newton Rd, Exmouth Tce, Carlaw Park and Karangahape Rd. In the civil sector, cranes have been removed from Waterview Tunnel, the Lincoln Rd widening project and Te Atatu interchange but three cranes have been sighted on the SH20A roads and bridge works … ”

Source:

  • NZ Herald

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

Commissioners to decide on SkyCity

NZICC_HobsonStreetView_620x310_620x310A resource consent applications for Sky City’s new convention centre will proceed without the public having a say.

The decision to proceed on a non-notified basis was made by independent commissioners David Hill, Rebecca Skidmore and Kitt Littlejohn.

The three commissioners will decide whether to approve the application in the coming months.

The commissioners considered the environmental effects of the application, as well as the recent decision about the Ports of Auckland Ltd resource consent application, in coming to their conclusion on notification.

The new design, released in May, revealed a smaller convention centre, which will require SkyCity to increase its spend from the $402 million agreed in 2013 to $430 million. The casino company said it might end up spending $450 million-$470 million after earlier saying it might need public money to build a centre for $530 million.

The application, before Auckland Council, is to establish a convention centre as well as an underground carpark with 1415 spaces, a 30-bed hotel, a pedestrian overpass over Hobson St and upgrading the streetscapes on Hobson and Nelson Streets.

The commissioners took into account the recent ruling by Justice Geoffrey Venning in the controversial case of two wharf extensions at Ports of Auckland where the judge said “special circumstances” existed which required public notification.

The commissioner said they did not consider there were any “special circumstances” warranting notification of the convention centre application.

“We are aware that the funding agreements in place between the Government and application have been the subject of public and media interest in recent times, particularly as this relates to the partial public funding of the proposed convention centre.

“However, these are matters of governance and public expenditure that have little, if anything, to do with the environmental effects of a relatively straightforward building project for a public facility in the heart of Auckland,” the commissioners said.

In a statement, SkyCity chief executive Nigel Morrison said the decision is good news for the project and allows the company to move ahead with selecting a construction partner and finalising a date for turning the first sod on the landmark building.

“We now await the final resource consent decision, to be finalised by the independent commissioners over the next few months,” Mr Morrison said

“We are continuing to work towards signing a binding building works contract for the NZICC by October and then commencing construction by the end of 2015.”

The 33,000 sqm convention centre will be capable of hosting meetings of up to 3,150 people, two concurrent events of 1,200 delegates each, and one-off events of up to 4,200 people. The NZICC will be the largest purpose-built convention centre in the country.

SkyCity also plans to construct a new laneway that will provide Aucklanders and visitors with a new public space, featuring shops, cafes, bars and quality signature restaurants like those on nearby Federal Street, he said.

SkyCity is currently progressing the preliminary design of the hotel and, as previously indicated, is exploring options with external investors for the development and future ownership of the hotel.

Source:

  • Bernard Orsman
  • NZ Herald

    “We’re pleased that momentum is continuing to build on the NZICC project, bringing jobs, growth, and much-needed economic investment in downtown Auckland,” Mr Morrison said.

The project

The proposed International Convention Centre will be 38,000 sqm on four levels.

It will include:
• Exhibition space: 8600 sqm of exhibition space for 3500 people in three halls.
• Theatre: To seat 3000 people for presentations or stripped out for large banquets and other events.
• Gallery: A series of bridges connecting people to meeting rooms and theatres across the levels.
• Meeting rooms: 3000 sqm of meeting rooms and breakout spaces. Walls can be moved to adjust the size of the areas.
• Sunset Room: To accommodate up to 1000 people for dinner or cocktails. It will look across the upper harbour and Waitakere Ranges.

Next stage for Christchurch rebuild

9bRMehChristchurch business leaders are applauding the Government’s transition proposal where the Government retains a key role in the Christchurch rebuild over the next five years.

They were concerned that the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) winding up next April year would leave a vacuum of leadership in the city and the Government’s commitment to anchor projects was flagging.

Ngai Tahu Property chief executive Tony Sewell said the proposal addressed every issue the business community had been concerned about.

He was happy with the Government’s “complete commitment” to building the Convention Centre and the Metro Sports centre. Ngai Tahu is part of a consortium chosen as the Government’s preferred partner to develop the Convention Centre.

Businesses had been concerned Government support for Christchurch was flagging “but it’s not.”

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee must report back to Cabinet by the end of August on the setting up of a new urban development authority, called Regenerate Christchurch, to lead the rebuild of the central city when Cera winds up in April.

The Christchurch City Council has set up its own development authority but the Government proposes now that its development authority should “integrate” with the council’s.

The Christchurch City Council and the Government are expected to work together to set up Regenerate Christchurch and decide what its aims are, what its functions would be, what powers it had and who would pay for it.

“They have clearly set out that there is going to be a relationship between Government and council, ” Sewell said.

Asked could the council and Government work together Sewell said “it’s not a can, it’s a must”.

“The voters and the ratepayers won’t tolerate a standoff.” Sewell said.

Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend said the proposal was sensible,offered a staged and predictable transition with the Government roles slowing decreasing and the council’s increasing.

It relied on collaboration between central and local government, “which I applaud” and good strong commercial governance.

He expected the Government and the council to appoint the board members of Regenerate Christchurch.

The chamber had been “pushing strongly” for a governance model over the top of the rebuild projects and that was now going to happen.

Asked if Regenerate Christchurch was just the Christchurch Central Development Unit (within Cera) with a new name, Townsend disagreed with that and said the transition proposal was a step change with new legislation, new leadership and a new collaborative relationship between the Government and council.

He expected the government and council to appoint directors to the board.of the development authority. Those people would have strong commercial experience and project management backgrounds and tracks records.

The Government’s proposal referred to some of Cera’s powers expiring or going to councils and some role for Ngai Tahu.

Kaiwhakahaere of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, the tribal council of Ngāi Tahu,  Sir Mark Solomon said he was not aware of any detail on that.

He was on the advisory board, headed by Dame Jenny Shipley, that advised the Government. It called for a “demonstrable step-change in local leadership”.

Sir Mark said the advisory board wanted to see control start to return to the city though the Government still needed to be involved.

Hawkins Construction executive director Jim Boult said he was delighted the government confirmed its commitment to the Convention Centre and Metro Sports centre.

He would like to see timeframes on those two. The Convention Centre was “the lump in the throat” of the central city developing, he said.

Source:

  • The Press

SkyCity Convention Centre design unveiled

skydesign2It will be smaller, more expensive and have a reduced capacity – but those behind the International Convention Centre say it will return much the same economic benefits and provide even more jobs.

They also confirmed no new economic modelling has been done since a 2011 report which estimated a $90 million return to New Zealand.

Initial projections of benefits from the ICC were 800 jobs on completion, 1000 jobs during construction and $90 million of economic benefits to New Zealand.

A new design was released today by Economic Development minister Steven Joyce and SkyCity chief executive Nigel Morrison. Visually, it is one level lower than the previous design but the thrust of the changes is around a reduction in size and capacity.

It’s a different convention centre from the one SkyCity mooted in 2011 when it edged out four competing bids to build the centre, winning on the basis of a promise it would cost taxpayers nothing but a change to the gambling law.

The Government signed a deal in 2013 for a $402 million trade with SkyCity – the value of building the centre against the benefits derived from the gambling law change.

But it then found itself looking for a redesign after Mr Morrison said the centre could cost up to $530 million and might need an injection of public money, prompting the Prime Minister to express concerns over an “eyesore” if extra money wasn’t spent on it.

NZICC_HobsonStreetView_620x310Mr Joyce said this morning that the original benefits projected by the Government and SkyCity held true because they were based around a projections of incoming business which had not changed.

“We’re completely relaxed the numbers we have got in front of us today are able to accommodate the sizes that we’re estimated at the time. There is no material difference to the amount of business the centre is able to attract.

“There’s no substantial change to those metrics. From the Crown’s perspective those variations in cost have gone up and gone back but they don’t make a difference because we’re not paying for it. They certainly make a difference to SkyCity.”

In the time since SkyCity was selected, changes have included the value of the convention centre. It has risen from $350 million in July 2011 to the agreed $402m when the agreement was signed in June 2013, to an maximum $530 million earlier this year. It has now been pulled back to a minimum $430 million with a possible top end of $470 million, to be covered by SkyCity.

The size of the centre has also wandered from the 5000 sq m maximum, stated in a memo to then-minister David Carter in April 2011, to the 3500 sq m maximum in the June 2013 Heads of Agreement to the 2850 sq m in the revised design announced today. As well as conventions, the new design could accommodate 4200 people for a single event.

Other changes – which the Government and SkyCity said amounted to a maximum 10 per cent reduction – were a drop from the 10,000 sq m exhibition space heralded by SkyCity in its 2011 proposal Government to 8700 sq m and the eventual 8100 sq m in the latest design.

skydesignThe new design was captured in an updated Heads of Agreement between SkyCity and the Government, which has seen more authority over construction and design handed to the casino company – subject to a line in the sand drawn by Mr Joyce and officials.

“What we’ve done is said, ‘here is the benchmark now and everything will be measured against the benchmark’. The arrangement is SkyCity can’t depart in any material way from this design today. It shifts the balance slightly.”

This means SkyCity will now have to work to the minimum requirements laid out in the updated deal. It will reduce the company’s ability to renegotiate, as it has since the original agreement was signed.

Mr Morrison said design changes, including a laneway between the convention centre and the new hotel SkyCity is building, would lead to an overall increase in jobs, even if there was a slight change to initial projections.

“If it has changed, it’s 1 per cent. I think you’ll find the number of people employed overall will be increased. The jobs will be greater under this scheme than they were previously.”

On the economic benefits, he said if there was any change it was “nominal” and irrelevant.

He said there was a benefit in reaching the agreement announced. “Part of the savings is being able to get on with it and avoiding future escalation.”

The final hurdle for SkyCity is the resource consent, which was lodged with Auckland Council in December. The panel considering the application has the option of putting it out for public consultation – or approving it with its own authority.

Mr Morrision said it was SkyCity’s preference the resource consent not be publicly notified,. “To do this, we need to get on with this.” He said if the plan was put out for public consultation, it was difficult to know how long it would add to the completion date or how costs would change in that time.

Mr Morrison said it was still not possible to know when the convention centre would be finished because the resource consent had yet to be decided. Beyond that, there would be a three-year build period.

There were no current bookings, but about 60 firm expressions of interest had been made.

He said the shift in location for the hotel to land purchased from TVNZ had added to the value of the deal by $28 million, the current value of the land. The sections, on which SkyCity’s hotel will now be located, were bought from TVNZ for $10 million in 2013 for the building of the convention centre.

Told Mr Joyce had called the new design “handsome”, Mr Morrison said: “Better than eyesore,” a reference to John Key’s comments in February.

Mr Joyce said Mr Key had seen the design and was happy with it.

Source:

  • NZ Herald

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.

getimage

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
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