In the face of two major earthquakes and countless aftershocks, Christchurch has come a long way since September 2010. Whats On Report Researcher Hannah Dunn took a trip to Christchurch last month to see the recovery efforts for herself plus meet some of the people involved.

Generally speaking, the rebuilding of Christchurch has not yet started. With the CBD cordoned off to the public and demolition of earthquake-damaged tall buildings in full swing, Christchurch still has some way to go before the estimated $20 billion of construction activity can begin. However, WOR is following numerous building projects for the city’s suburban areas and efforts to restore a sense of normality in Christchurch with new community facilities, cafes, restaurants, and shops is keeping Canterbury’s construction force busy until the rebuild launches.

One of the most novel post-earthquake new builds in Christchurch is the Re:Start retail precinct on Cashel Street. The $3 million temporary mall, completed late October 2011, was constructed alongside a multimillion dollar reinstatement of the city’s leading department store Ballantynes. Boasting a bookshop, designer clothing boutiques, and two cafes, the mall was developed using brightly painted shipping containers in an area cleared of earthquake-damaged buildings. Designed by The Buchan Group and built by Leighs Construction, the retail precinct is a sure sign of recovery for the Garden City. See J120081 for further details.

Whats On Report was one of the first to get into Cathedral Square after a controlled reopening of the walkway late last month. CERA officials have temporarily reopened part of the CBD during a break in demolition work to allow Christchurch residents to reconnect with an area that has been closed off for the last nine months. Although demolition is underway on several of the tall buildings surrounding Cathedral Square, a decision has not been made about the fate of the 17-storey Forsyth Barr building.

So, what is coming up for Christchurch in 2012? WOR is following several new office developments for the CBD, which are expected to progress as soon as the cordon zone is relaxed. Harcourts’ Grenadier Christchurch City is planning a four storey rebuild of their building on Madras Street to accommodate its 100-strong team of real estate agents. It is hoped that the architecturally designed building, by MAP Architects, will start construction early 2012. See J132025 for more information.

Christchurch City Council’s vision for how the CBD will be redeveloped is currently being drawn up and includes a bar, cafe, and restaurant precinct alongside the Avon River, a covered marketplace for local arts and crafts individuals, low-rise buildings no greater than seven storeys high, and open green public spaces.

Photographs: Top to Bottom: Damaged shops along Cashel St, Re:Start Retail Precinct on Cashel St & Cathedral Square.
Reporter: Hannah Dunn, 24-26 November 2011
Editor: Ella Trotter


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