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.
- Liz McDonald
- Photo: Iain McGregor