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Office developments on Christchurch's fringe speed up

Wednesday 23rd March 2011

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Developers are speeding up plans to develop business premises on the outskirts of Christchurch, while the central business district remains off limits.

Christchurch International Airport, which is part owned by the commercial arm of the city council, is developing temporary office accommodation on a site between Orchard and Russley Roads, while the Press newspaper reported that the developers of Pegagus town are accelerating development of a business precinct near Woodend, 30 minutes north of Christchurch.

Pete Whalan, from Bayleys Canterbury, said the earthquakes in September and February would force a major rethink about central city building sizes and heights. The central business district would expand beyond previous limits, and business would move into the suburbs.

"For example, we have an abundance of land around the airport, where infrastructure services are already in place and land is ready to be built on. The plan to date has been to attract freight and logistics type operations to the location.

"However, given the current crisis, the airport company is planning to build both a permanent office park for long-term office accommodation and also a temporary office park to relocate business to as a medium term solution," Whalan said.

The single level buildings were expected to take 12 weeks to construct. They would be made of insulated sandwich panels with aluminium joinery. Floor areas of between 500sqm and 2000sqm were being planned. The lease term would be three years.

Whalan said that an exodus from the CBD was evident on a temporary basis by necessity at this stage, but it would become more permanent as time went on and firms became comfortable with operating in suburban environments.

"From a purely human psyche perspective, a lot more people are going to have psychological issues with working in CBD buildings higher than, say, three or four stories.

"Consequently, fewer firms will be looking to occupy high level floor space out of concern for their employees. Appreciating this, developers are unlikely to build structures which would be extremely hard to tenant," he said.

The CBD would regain its vibrancy, although this could take up a decade to fully recuperate.

"Retail recovery in the CBD is a sure bet. It's the right place for such operations which will feed from the tourism and hospitality sectors, supported by those who choose the inner-city living lifestyle," he said.



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