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Idealog—in the ideas business

Business unit set up to spearhead Christchurch rebuild

A new business unit focusing on the rebuild of Christchurch's CBD has been set up within the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority to deliver on the central city plan.

The Christchurch Central Development Unit will be led by Warwick Isaacs, CERA’s operations manager responsible for CBD access, building deconstruction, and the Cashel Mall restart.

Canterbury earthquake recovery minister Gerry Brownlee said the unit would work with the council to deliver the vision outlined in the central city plan, which was submitted to the government last year for approval following a community consultation process.

It  draws on international best practice for the recovery of major centres following disasters, or where communities have decided to embark on a significant urban renewal process, including the redevelopment of Beirut’s CBD, Lower Manhattan, London’s Docklands, and Brisbane’s Southbank Development Corporation.

The new unit’s first task will be to prepare a blueprint for implementation of the plan inside the next 100 days to give property owners, developers and business sectors a idea of how the city will look and how they can be involved.

“This blueprint will be vital to achieving a coherent roll-out of a number of anchor projects such as public buildings and strategic city blocks, and will provide important guidance to the market.“

Anchor projects include the city’s new convention centre. Hotel developments are unlikely to proceed until the location of the convention centre is resolved.

“This is a great day for Canterbury as it’s another tangible milestone in the recovery process,” Brownlee said.“It marks a shift in focus from demolition to building the new, vibrant, distinctive and green central city the people of Christchurch told their council they wanted.”

Property Council’s chief executive Connal Townsend said the CBD needed to be an attractive destination for people, business and investment.

“Every city needs a buoyant mercantile heart, and the unit announced by Minister Brownlee provides an opportunity to ensure that private investment dollars can flow once again," he said.

“The rebuild must be carefully thought out and planned by people who understand what makes an investment market buoyant and viable. We need to bring in that expertise in order to create a commercially viable and sustainable city that will endure for years to come."

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