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
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Luxury apartments for Christchurch

getimage (15)Christchurch’s tallest post-quake apartment complex is about to take shape opposite Cranmer Square. To be called West Kilmore Precinct, a $40 million plus complex will be erected 11 storeys tall with apartments priced between $450,000 and at least $1.2 million. The site is the corner of Kilmore St and Cranmer Square where Ernst and Young House stood before the quakes.

Christchurch property developer Grant MacKinnon is behind the project. His previous projects include the now-demolished Gallery Apartments in Gloucester St. MacKinnon has an investor he does not wish to name, but confirmed it was a local now living overseas. Although building height restrictions in the area were lowered to 11 metres in the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan, MacKinnon has existing use rights to build more than twice as high.

West Kilmore Precinct will consist of four buildings with different heights. Stage one will have 15 one and two bedroom apartments priced from $450,000 to $950,000, and is due to be finished in winter. Stage two will be two-connected buildings finished in mid-2017. They will be 11-storeys high with 35 apartments of up to three bedrooms and priced from $500,000 to $1.2 million. The third stage had not been finalised but would have six ‘‘higher end’’ apartments.

getimage (16)The complex will be full height facing north, with roof heights stepped down towards the south. MacKinnon bought the property in 2012 with the apartment plan in mind. He believes it is one of the best sites in the city, with views over both Cranmer Square and Hagley Park. About 20 of the apartments are pre-sold or under option. However he described the highend apartment market in the central city as difficult. ‘‘It’s a hard market to work in. Lots of people are looking and some are buying, but they’re careful”. ‘‘But we are appealing to some people. It’s a small number and there is still some nervousness about coming back into the central city but that’s rapidly falling away.’’

MacKinnon said he was pleased to see other apartment developments in the area. These include developer New-Urban Group’s Chinese-backed low-rise 30-apartment plan for the old Cranmer Courts site across the road, and the eight-storey Verve Precinct apartments going up to replace The Est@blishment on Peterborough St. ‘‘It’s encouraging that other people are doing it as well, as long as they do it right,’’ MacKinnon said.

Other apartment developments have failed to get traction, including the Miro complex planned for Colombo St and the Crown-run Breathe urban village project opposite Latimer Square. Real estate agent Mark O’Loughlin of Harcourts, who is marketing West Kilmore and specialises in central city apartment developments, said demand was coming from younger owners or investors wanting ‘‘affordable’’ apartments, and ‘‘younger baby boomers’’ looking for a lifestyle.

There was very little demand for family apartments in the central city, he said. O’Loughlin said there seemed to be a recent groundswell of buyers looking at inner city apartments, and he had sold more in the past six months than at any time since the quakes.

Source:

  • The Press
  • Liz McDonald

Jet grouting to start

getimage555Thousands of tonnes of concrete are being injected into the Christchurch Town Hall’s foundations as part of a multi million dollar project to strengthen the building.

This week contractors began the lengthy process of jet grouting the quakedamaged building’s foundations. They are using three grout machines that have been imported from Germany for the work, during which more than 1000 large concrete piles will be injected eight metres into the ground.

In the February 2011 earthquake the land beneath and around the Town Hall was severely damaged. Although the building itself fared relatively well, significant strengthening of its foundations is needed. Jet grouting has been identified as the most effective repair solution to address the land issues underneath the building.

‘‘Grout and water is injected into the ground at high velocity to create columns of soilcrete, which is soil cemented with grout. The columns will overlap and interlock to create an earthquake resistant underground wall of columns that will protect the building from soil movements,’’ said Project Manager Paul Youngman.

A total of 27,000 cubic metres of jet-grout concrete – which would fill 270 average family swimming pools, 37,500 bath tubs or 200 buses – will be used during the process.

A thick concrete slab will be laid over the concrete columns once the jet-grout work is complete, which will help to bring the Town Hall up to 100 per cent of New Building Standard.

Contractors have spent five months preparing the site for the jet-grouting work, which is expected to be completed in June next year. It is the first stage in the $127.5 million repair of the Town Hall.

Christchurch City Council anchor projects unit manager Liam Nolan said the restoration work would ensure the Town Hall could continue to be enjoyed by Christchurch residents for the next 50 years and beyond.

‘‘The Town Hall is one of the city’s most treasured civic and heritage buildings and this restoration work will ensure it is better and stronger than it was pre-earthquake. Starting on the Town Hall foundations marks the culmination of four years of work. This has included engineering assessments, going through a tender process and appointing a contractor to undertake the restoration work,’’ Nolan said.

‘‘By the time we’ve finished work on foundations, the ground underneath the building will be significantly stabilised, ensuring we can get on with the rest of the work needed to restore this building to a world-class facility that can be used for many years to come.’’ .

The restoration of the Town Hall, which also includes a significant upgrade and refurbishment of the facility, is due to be completed in 2018.

Source:

  • Lois Cairns
  • The Press

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

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

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

getimage67

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
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