As we head into Christmas let me give you a few numbers on Ōtākaro’s projects that help illustrate how far we have come in Christchurch’s regeneration this year – 29,000 plants and 600,000 thousand pavers make up the City Promenade that now lines the Avon River; 97,000 hours went into repairing, widening and reprioritising Manchester Street for buses; 15,000 cubic metres of concrete and 1,450 tonnes of steel are taking shape as Te Pae, the city’s new convention centre, which is now 25 percent complete.
A more significant measure of progress may be considering the spaces we can once again use. In February the former site of the CTV building was reopened as a green space for peaceful reflection, as desired by the affected families. Victoria Square emerged from a 13-month restoration in March and the determination to retain its iconic character has recently been recognised with a Civic Trust award. The Bowker Fountain is back to its fully illuminated former glory, and the paths levelled and widened to make the area safer, more accessible and ready for the likes of Carols by Candlelight.
In October we opened the fourth and final gathering space in the South Frame – Kahikatea Common – complete with native plants, seating and the central city’s first butterfly enclosure. It feels like a year that has gone faster than Santa down a chimney and I hope you have noticed the changes. All the best for the holiday season and I look forward to updating you on what lies ahead for Ōtākaro in the New Year.
It may only be 117 metres long, but the short stretch of road between the hospital and new Christchurch Outpatients facility, known as the Oxford Gap, is undergoing some major surgery of its own.
When it opens towards the end of the year, the Gap will cater for a significant amount of traffic. Every day 800 people visit Outpatients along with 300 staff, all arriving by car, bus, bike or on foot. On average 1000 people bike through the Gap each day on their way to or from the city. So, to keep vehicles moving safely and efficiently, Oxford Gap has been redeveloped into what is best described as an airport pick-up and drop-off area, with short-term and mobility parking.
You will drive in from the southern end, near Riccarton Avenue, and exit via Antigua Street. For people walking and cycling through the Gap, there will be a 4.5 metre wide shared path on the west side of the street, adjacent to the hospital, and dedicated pedestrian footpaths on both sides of the street.
To get between the hospital and the outpatients building there is a 12 metre wide raised pedestrian crossing, ensuring users can be easily seen. You can get a good look at the new Oxford Gap layout from the City Promenade, which opens on 25 November.
It’s a big change in a very busy part of the city so when using Oxford Gap for the first time please do so with care while we all get used to the new layout.
On 25 November Ōtākaro will be holding the City Promenade Scavenger Hunt to mark our completion of this key feature of the wider Te Papa Ōtākaro/Avon River Precinct; $10,000 worth of prizes will be on offer from businesses along the promenade.
By answering 10 simple questions about some of the features along the new waterfront, you could walk away with a voucher from Discover Travel, something dapper from Crane Brothers or an invitation to The Pegasus Arms or Miro for your next meal.
Identified in the Blue Print as an Anchor Project, the Avon River Precinct and City Promenade have transformed the 2km stretch of Oxford Terrace between the Margaret Mahy Family Playground and the hospital. It has been designed to turn the city around to face and embrace the river like never before.
The paved promenade incorporates art and literary works, rain gardens and other greenery, terraced seating and steps along the river. It’s a route for slow-speed vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, prams, scooters; anyone looking to take a moment and ease their way through the central city. So, the City Promenade Scavenger Hunt can be tackled at a leisurely pace.
Pick up an entry form from either the Antigua Street footbridge or Margaret Mahy Family Playground from 10am on 25 November and it doesn’t have to be in the entry box at the other end until 4pm.
There will be food and entertainment available throughout the day so bring the family and find something very special in the heart of our city.
Ōtākaro recently ran a series of walking tours around the central city as part of Explore Christchurch, a campaign to encourage locals to come and see what’s going on in town.
With around 300 people joining us across the eight tours, the level of interest surpassed our expectations. At first glance, Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre, the Avon River Precinct, Rauora Park and the South Frame all sound like isolated projects. On the tours we were able to show how linking homes to parks and shops, restaurants and other attractions makes the central city an increasingly pleasant place to be.
The same goes for the links between Te Pae, hotels, shops, cafés and the river. The feedback we’ve received on the tours suggests that for many people it was the first time the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan made sense.
Ōtākaro is delivering a whole host of new places for people within the four avenues and it was great to see people enjoying the gardens and paved walkways alongside the major developments forming the new central city.
So, if you went on a tour, do us a favour and take someone you know for a look around. Show them the homes being built alongside Rauora Park, point out the riverside Promenade that is now being finished.
Or join us for another Ōtākaro tour on 13 October as part of the walking festival and we’ll see if we can make a tour guide out of you.
As a recent arrival on the regeneration scene, the most common question I have been asked is naturally – why did you want the job as Ōtākaro Limited Chief Executive?
As an engineer I have worked in New Zealand, Australia, UK and Asia in a variety of project and business leadership roles. I have had the opportunity to be involved in the likes of Transmission Gully in Wellington and City Rail Link in Auckland, the A$12b Melbourne Metro Rail Project and the Channel Tunnel in England. They are city-shaping projects that improve lives and that’s what has brought me to Christchurch.
The scale and variety of work going on here is unparalleled and the outcome will be as well. It’s an opportunity that professionally and personally was too hard to let pass by. There’s still a lot to do, but as someone who has seen a lot of big projects start and finish, I can assure you Christchurch is about to turn a significant corner.
All of Ōtākaro’s roadworks and the Avon River Precinct promenade will be done by the end of the year, meaning a dramatic reduction in the number of fences and cones around the CBD. At the same time construction has started on the Metro Sports Facility and is progressing well on Te Pae. The welcome mat is also out for the return of central city residents with townhouses and apartments in the One Central development now for sale. It’s a place I’m excited to now call home.
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