The bare land between the new Christchurch Convention Center and Cathedral Square is in the process of being renovated ahead of the complex’s upcoming opening, but neighboring parts of the square itself remain dilapidated.
This led city leaders to ask the council to speed up plans to tidy up the remaining parts of the plaza.
They are worried about the impression it will give visitors to the $ 475 million Te Pae convention center, which is due to open in October.
Crown Reconstruction Corporation ÅtÄkaro has chosen to turn a hotel-only site into a temporary public green space, but other areas of the square look “terrible,” Central City Business Association president Annabel Turley said .
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She said that the condition of the square was really disappointing as the opening of Te Pae was an opportunity for the city to shine.
âThe earthquakes happened over 10 years ago. There was plenty of time to put everything away.
âIt looks terrible. There are a number of buildings that are really doing us a disservice.
She said there had to be some serious creative solutions to make the area more beautiful.
âThis is the first impression these visitors have of the city. I really don’t want them to leave thinking this represents what the city is like.
The land being converted to public space, on the south side of the Te Pae site facing the plaza, is owned by the Crown and will eventually be developed by private developer Carter Group, with hotels serving the convention center.
In the meantime, ÅtÄkaro is landscaping it with lawn and grasses, and will add picnic tables and lighting to it so that it can be used by the public and for events. Access to Te Pae from the plaza will also be improved.
The new green space stretches from Colombo St on one side to Oxford Tce on the other.
Meanwhile, the northwest corner of Cathedral Square near the Te Pae construction site has broken and missing cobblestones, weeds, and puddles.
Christchurch City Councilor Jake McLellan, who represents the Central District, said he wanted plans to speed up to tidy up the remaining part of the plaza.
“It’s certainly not Christchurch doing its best.”
Christchurch City Council Planning, Regeneration and Heritage Officer Carolyn Ingles said they were planning “minor works to improve pedestrian access and the visual connection between Te Pae and the square” .
This will include relaying the paving, modifying the borders, replacing the grids around the trees and improving the lighting.
Some steps are also being taken to improve private properties in Cathedral Square left vacant or whose buildings were damaged after earthquakes.
Ingles said the council is in talks with Emmons Developments, which owns the damaged Rydges Hotel, an adjacent parking lot and a vacant site next to Te Pae.
Owners of vacant lots across Worcester St, between Cathedral Square and Oxford Tce, have reiterated their request to extend their resource permits for parking and will be required to improve the appearance of their sites if the permits are granted, she said.
At the southwest end of the plaza, the former vacant ANZ site is being landscaped so that it can be used as a public space until owner Emerald Development Ltd decides to build it. .
Ingles said Strand Lane, which connects the southwest corner of the square with Hereford St, was unlikely to be reopened in time for the opening of Te Pae.
The way to its opening will be wider than before the earthquakes after the city council bought an adjoining strip of land.
The council also discussed with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment about the relocation of the exercise yard of the isolation and quarantine center (MIQ) managed from the Distinction hotel away from the cathedral square.
This would allow the area in front of the Spark office building to be tidied up and used by the public.
In 2019, the council started part of the $ 3.6 million improvements to the southern corners of the plaza near the Spark building, but the rest of the work, including new lawns and gardens, has not taken place. .
Part of the northeast corner of the square was landscaped with plantings and seating when the new TÅ«ranga Library was completed in late 2018.
A grand conceptual plan to redevelop the plaza at an estimated cost of $ 60 million to $ 80 million was released by the reconstruction planning agency Regenerate in 2018, but was never carried out.