“We have lived and breathed this project for three years. To see it come to fruition, looking and feeling just as we imagined it, is far more than simply satisfying. It is absolutely thrilling. Now we want the people of Christchurch to love it too.”
Richard Peebles, Mike Percasky and Kris Inglis – the men behind High St Lanes and Little High Eatery – witnessed the opening of their latest development, the Riverside Farmers’ Market in Christchurch’s city centre, on Monday 30 September.
“We had heard a great deal from overseas about the growth phenomenon that is urban farmers’ markets. Selling local growers’ and producers’ fresh products locally has become a worldwide trend based on the ethics of sustainability and the need to reduce food miles and our carbon footprint. There is a superb example of this concept in Copenhagen that we researched and that convinced us Christchurch was right for a similar venture.”
A development of the scale envisioned right in the heart of the city would not have been possible without the availability of a suitable site. The one viewed as optimal by the property investors was at the intersection of Cashel Mall and Oxford Terrace, occupied by the Container Mall. “This was the beginning of a long process of convincing the right people of the viability of our vision and of eventually negotiating to purchase the site from Ōtākaro Ltd, the Crown-owned company delivering the central city anchor projects.”
An initial concept design with 3D modelling by John Ayres of Creative Studios, Christchurch architectural designers, was modified and tweaked several times. That, along with irrefutable evidence of the benefits of farmers’ markets presented by the three indefatigable partners of the Peebles Group, eventually won the day and the concept could begin to transform into reality. “We demonstrated how much this development could contribute to the regeneration of the central city, to the engagement of Christchurch citizens and to the activation of the entire area.”
The result is a stunning complex of four buildings interconnected by lanes leading from the Avon River through to Ballantynes. It includes a 3,500 square metre farmers’ market with about 70 vendors and food stalls, as well as laneways with boutique retail businesses. “The complex has a rustic and heritage vibe, reflecting the history of the city and deliberately incorporating recycled materials – rimu, bricks, iron-bark wharf timber, windows, 100-year old wallpaper and even two faces of the clock from the Moorhouse Ave railway station.”
The investors acknowledge that the project could not have eventuated in the way it did without the input of all the consulting firms – DCM Urban Design, Creative Studios, Kirk Roberts, Bonisch Consultants, Novo Group, Holmes Fire, Kirkcaldie Interiors, ThompsonCo, White Associates and the main contractor Consortium Construction. “We have entrusted these specialists with previous developments and once again they have delivered.”
Richard, Mike and Kris want the complex to become the heart of the city, to attract people into town and to keep them there. It won’t be a place purely to buy food and to eat it; it will be a hub, attracting festivals, choirs and events and hosting musicians and handicraft vendors. “We think it is set to become Christchurch’s number one tourist attraction.”