Friday, January 05, 2018

Christchurch CBD - lack of development therein

.. a lot of people financially lost businesses as business interruptions claims often are not successful.
Therein lies a tale. Folks who are Shocked, Shocked (Captain Renault?) about the state of the Old CBD are missing the local knowledge and the history of the quake sequences. A by no means complete list:
  1. Businesses were locked out of the Old CBD for months, and as Speckles quite rightly notes, this led, quelle surprise, to a chain of failures as owners were unable to retrieve inventory, records, plant or equipment. It would have been possible to 'mine into' dodgy buildings to do this, had authorities been less stupid, and some smart guys immediately signed themselves onto demolition crews with precisely that retrieval in mind. But most owners did or could not.
  2. The 'Precincts' idea - block-size spatial areas devoted to one purpose - Health, Justice, Innovation, yada yada, has proved a massive failure for three reasons:
    • It's hard enough to build and lease a single building on a modest plot. Trying to do that on massive floor plates on huge land areas is nigh-on impossible.
    • It took so long to aggregate titles to produce the Precincts that some - Health, Innovation - just went elsewhere. Health is now centred around Bealey Ave, Innovation is a fizzer, and the only successful Precinct in its original conception is Justice, which of course is funded by the person you can spot in any mirror.
    • Ground conditions are patchy but uniformly shocking. Justice building cost Fletchers a cool $100 milly in over-runs, and the engineering plus remediation required for foundations alone is so expensive just to get a stable platform, that rents, always subject to ECON101, have to be way higher than suburban or other centre averages, to afford to start digging.
  3. Other TLA's have proven themselves far more adept at soaking up the residential and commercial munny that flowed from insurance coffers. IZone at Rolleston (Selwyn DC), a plethora of residential subdivisions in outlying but perfectly commutable areas, and the business opportunities that come with greenfield development, have, quite simply, eaten Christchurch City's lunch.
  4. The immediate answer for businesses that wished to survive was to relocate. This coincided with a wave of land developments due not to quakes but to reconsideration of space requirements (e.g. Riccarton Raceway). This provided business parks and high-end plots, all outside the Old CBD. None of the new office tenants is in any hurry to relocate back into the Old CBD, because most have found that the 'doughnut city' - a ring of businesses around the Old CBD - actually suits themselves, their customers, and their staff extremely well. So the Old CBD is gonna struggle to attract anything but hospo, high-end retail, and consultancies firmly attached to the Gubmint Teat.
  5. The earthquake sequence was handled so badly in business survival terms by authorities that there is considerable animus out there, about exposing businesses again to either the Old CBD, the City Council, or in general, to any development which appears to have the cold dead hands of Gubmint anywhere near it. This animus will take a generation to diffuse.

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