In what might be the best gauge of current developer confidence in Christchurch, we have just gone to market with our largest central city land parcel.
At over 8000m2 the site bordered by Madras, Armagh and Gloucester Streets is the biggest blank canvas development opportunity you will see this close to Cathedral Square anytime soon.
The site’s most significant neighbour is Fletcher Living’s One Central, where homes are selling fast, with close to 200 now purchased.
Naturally this burgeoning neighbourhood will need and support further commercial developments in the area. So, we look forward to seeing a range of proposals for the Madras Street land.
Having recently divested some other significant sites around city, we know there’s a renewed appetite for development in Christchurch.
Our sale of the former IRD building late last year will lead to the creation of a nationally significant centre for research, training and the development of dementia care related opportunities. A stunning new medical services facility is also on the way as a result of our sale of the former Oxford Clinic site last month.
So, I will be sure to let you know how we get on with the Madras Street site.
I am hopeful a successful sale of this size will also be a call to action for others who have been waiting for the right time to move forward with plans for their own vacant sites around this city.
Because Ōtākaro Limited was born out of the response to a natural disaster, we’ve never lived in a “business as usual” environment.
This inherent agility has enabled us to continue to make good progress on Christchurch’s Anchor Projects in a year that ranks right up there with the most unusual the world has known.
To regain momentum, contractors got back to work post-lockdown quickly, successfully implementing social distancing measures on sites where nationalities and languages are as numerous as the façade tiles on Te Pae.
This rapid return to work allowed us to keep funnelling millions of dollars into the community through a nervous construction sector, at a time when many people were worrying about their jobs.
So, while the doors may not have swung open at the convention centre this year as planned, it has still served us well.
This year the Metro Sports Facility has sprung out of the ground.
It’s a towering steel skeleton reminding all who travel along Moorhouse Ave that Christchurch will be home to one of the country’s top sports and recreation facilities.
The South Frame is now close to 90 percent complete and 95 percent of the first 172 homes in the East Frame have been sold.
There’s also a 100 percent chance the award-winning Te Papa Ōtākaro/Avon River Precinct will be finished next year, when we open the North Frame pedestrian bridge.
So even though it may be through a mask, there has still been plenty of progress to smile about this year.
On St Asaph Street, outside the Metro Sports Facility site, we now have work underway to install New Zealand’s first Wastewater Heat Recovery System.
Showers, sinks, dishwashers, washing machines and even toilets all result in hot water going down the drain.
This lifts the temperature of the major wastewater pipe running down St Asaph Street to a useful 17°C. With this system we will be able to capture and recycle this otherwise wasted energy to help heat the pools and building.
Part of the St Asaph Street wastewater pipe flow will be redirected into a building in the Metro Sports Facility’s car park.
The sewage will be “screened” to filter unwanted material and enable the flow to pass through a heat exchanger.
By using an exchanger, fresh warm water can be supplied to the Facility’s heat pumps while ensuring there is no contact between the sewage and the pools.
This waste heat recovery project will provide significant benefits to the Christchurch community by re-using waste heat energy that has already been paid for to produce approximately 3500kW of energy per annum for heating at the Metro Sports Facility, which is the equivalent of powering up to 2000 homes per day.
This will result in a saving of around $100,000 a year compared to groundwater sourced heating and help lower greenhouse gas emissions.
From many parts of the city, and even from the Port Hills, you can now clearly make out the white steel skeleton of what will be the Metro Sports Facility.
Some very big bones were added recently, in the form of the roof trusses for the 2500-seat show court.
The roof is made up of four sections, each of which weighs as much as about 33 cars and has a span close to half the length of a rugby field.
Unsurprisingly, getting these giant steel sections into place to the millimetre was a delicate operation, and it’s just a taste of what’s to come as we create the largest sports and recreation facility of its kind in New Zealand.
These roof sections required one of the big cranes to lift them into place.
The spans over the ten pools will require two cranes to work in tandem.
The 12 metre ceiling height of the show court space is to meet the requirements for hosting the likes of top-level basketball and netball fixtures at the facility.
The grandstand seats will be retractable, to reveal two more courts that can then be used for community competitions.
That’s alongside the six other indoor courts at the southern end of the site, near Moorhouse Avenue.
The sheer size and adaptability of this anchor project we’re delivering are key elements in allowing a wide range of people to reap the benefits of being active.
We’re about to let pedestrians, cyclists and scooter riders onto the latest section of the South Frame’s greenway to be completed, between Durham and Montreal Streets.
Completion of the work in this block means you will be able to get from Colombo to Montreal Streets on this new garden-lined laneway, away from the traffic on Tuam or St Asaph Streets which flank it.
Taking this journey will, however, draw your attention to the few sections of the South Frame still to be completed. The great news on that front is that all the agreements with the relevant landowners are now in place to allow Ōtākaro to finish this anchor project.
This includes Butchers Lane, near Dux Central, which will create a layout for the area similar to that surrounding the ever-popular Little High Eatery. We hope the design encourages a similar style of private development in this area.
Private and public spaces will also come together when the section of the greenway to the west of the ECan building is created. Here the laneway will effectively run though the Team Hutchinson Ford building, with the owners retaining the heritage roof over the top.
Our successful divestment of the Odeon Theatre and Lawrie & Wilson Auctioneers sites in the South Frame to ECan recently will also lead to additional activity in this ever-growing green space.
One of the pleasing aspects of our work delivering anchor projects for Christchurch is the positive impact on suppliers.
We’re spending over $10m a month in the city at the moment. We’ve profiled some of those suppliers in recent in-house video updates.
Local company, John Jones Steel is producing 4500 tonnes of fabricated steelwork for the large Metro Sports Facility. It’s the biggest project in the company’s 50-year history and will keep them busy for a year.
John Jones Steel notes that their staff and families look forward to swimming in the competition and leisure pools, and playing on the court and other facilities, making it a special project for them.
That steel is being hoisted into place by Titan Cranes, which has three of the largest cranes ever used in New Zealand on-site, including a massive 500-tonne crawler crane especially imported for the project. I’m with one of the crane operators who notes excitedly: “You’re never too old to ride a hydroslide!”
But it’s not just the large companies that benefit from these projects. Remarkable Surfaces, a small family business based at Wigram, is spray painting the 487 gilded boxes that compose the ceiling design in the vast banquet room at the Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre.
This is the largest project that Remarkable Surfaces has ever undertaken, and they are indeed doing a remarkable job.
With Covid-19, these are challenging times to be delivering major construction projects. We look forward to having them completed for the enjoyment and benefit of us all.
It seems the recent extended stay within the confines of our own homes has led many people to consider whether the grass might be greener over by Rauora Park, where Fletcher Living is experiencing a surge in interest in its One Central homes, post-lockdown.
Of the 172 homes currently on offer, ranging from one-bedroom apartments through to four-bedroom townhouses, 100 have now been sold.
As the number of residents has grown, so has the sense of community. Many people are notably excited by the fact they will be living on the doorstep of the Canterbury Multi-Use Arena, with its All Blacks and big acts.
With more than half of the existing homes now sold, Ōtākaro and Fletcher Living are in the thick of working out what comes next, but rest assured the future development sites will not be sitting idle.
In August, Fletcher Living’s placemaking partner, Gap Filler, will be holding the Good Vibes Winter Festival in the area, which will be followed by the A&P City Farm in November and, naturally, a Christmas Carnival in December.
Add to the mix record low home loan rates and the next few months offer a great opportunity to scope out what living in central Christchurch looks like. And let’s face it, any excuse to get
out of the house these days is a welcome one.
So much of central Christchurch has a shiny new face, meaning opportunities to rejuvenate buildings with historic charm are now relatively rare. But on 13 August we’ll be taking to auction the illustrious Odeon Theatre and neighbouring Lawrie and Wilson building in a heritage offering like no other.
The Odeon’s white stone street frontage, entry and stairs carry a Category 1 listing. It was designed in 1883 by Thomas Stoddart Lambert as a public theatre and hall, and later transformed to a vaudeville venue, cinema and church. It has hosted the likes of Sir Laurence Olivier and the Old Vic company as well as a public meeting with Kate Sheppard for the women’s suffrage movement. The Lawrie and Wilson building dates back to 1911 and was built as auction premises.
It’s no secret that heritage projects are hard work, so this is a proposition for those who want to give something back to Christchurch by reinvigorating the hidden treasure that is the Odeon. Also included in the offering is the large parcel of vacant land adjoining the two heritage buildings, fronting onto the high-profile intersection of Tuam and Manchester Streets.
Some fantastic restoration work has already been carried out around the city but we know a lot of the local developers who like heritage projects have their hands full at the moment, so this is a great opportunity for other parties to potentially take centre stage.