The city of Christchurch is on an urban renewal program never before seen in New Zealand.
Looking out into a large vacant space from the Christchurch Deloitte building recently, Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism chief executive, Tim Hunter, counted 12 cranes.
“Christchurch and Canterbury is in serious rebuild mode,” he said at MEETINGS in June.
“What’s important in transitioning between a very damaged city and a new one, is to make it a good place to be.”
Mr Hunter said when the earthquake struck in 2011, international guest nights dropped by 50 per cent. In the last two years guest stays have slowly grown by 28 per cent.
He said the new developments, and the reason for the cranes, is a signal to the world that Christchurch and Canterbury is on the comeback.
“The best example of restoration in Christchurch is the Isaac Theatre Royal. It’s over 100 years old and completely rebuilt to its Victorian architectural standard. It’s used for concerts, conferences, and has great event spaces.”
Full restoration of the Christchurch Town Hall, heavily damaged in the earthquake, started in July 2015 and is expected to be ready in three years’ time. Reconfiguring the James Hay Theatre within the Town Hall will result in a mid-size auditorium for classical music and a flat-floor contemporary musical venue for 500-600 seated and 1000 people standing.
The brand new Christchurch Convention and Exhibition Centre is expected to be completed by the last quarter of 2018. Operator representative, Rob McIntyre, who was also at MEETINGS, said they are well and truly into the master planning stage and awaiting to appoint a contractor.
Located on the Avon River precinct, the fully flexible 1500-seat auditorium within the convention centre will be able to host more than one event at one time. Its location is a key selling point, being within a 15 minute walk to major hotels, restaurants, bars, and retail spaces. A 200-room Crowne Plaza hotel is also part of the project and is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.
“There are two main objectives of the international convention centre. Firstly it’s to attract international conventions to New Zealand and the other is to reactivate the CBD of Christchurch, and the convention centre is a significant catalyst to that,” Mr McIntyre said.
“Some things in Christchurch are taking a little longer than we’d like but we are rebuilding a city literally from the centre out and it’s important to get it right.”
Most recently the Tait Technology Centre (headquarters for Tait Communications company) opened its doors to the public. Equipped with brand new facilities that can host 400 guests for cocktails or an intimate meeting for 35, the building has received a prestigious award for its commitment to sustainability and energy efficiency.