Government chips in for City Mall project

Liz McDonald from The Press, writes: Christchurch's hotly disputed City Mall block looks likely to be developed by individual landowners, with the Government chipping in to tie everything together.

The year-long battle over the land, between the Bridge of Remembrance and Ballantynes, became a stalemate when developers failed to secure enough land to build their elaborate multimillion-dollar master plans.

Now the Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) is fast-tracking a strategy to help individual owners develop their sites. It has called tenders for architectural and urban design work to create an overall concept, and will choose a provider this month.

Tender documents say the designers chosen will need to pull together various owners' and developers' plans. Some land titles may need to be amalgamated.

CCDU director Warwick Isaacs said the aim was "a concept that is cohesive and works well for all parties".

It would help create the best environment for private-sector development, rather than dictating to individual developers, he said.

The project will be part of a wider design brief for the public spaces in and around the mall, including laneways, plazas and car parking. The unit will not yet say how much it expects to spend.

The CCDU has received a report from Melbourne retail consultants MacroPlan advising it how to revive the central city's retail core and compete with the suburbs.

It made the decision to step in with design work after using its earthquake recovery powers to demand information on the intentions of all the landowners and the six developers with consented development proposals.

The land is in several hands and despite developers Ocean Partners, Leighs Construction and Richard Diver buying land, they stood in each other's way.

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