There is no question the Canterbury quakes were a game-changer. They took from Christchurch an iconic identity, one it had been building and nurturing since the Canterbury Association settled the surrounding province of Canterbury and gave the city its name in 1848.
With the brunt of Mother’s Nature’s force concentrated in our central business district, it was our city’s commercial heart which took the biggest hit. For many of the businesses that had made their commercial homes within the cleverly confined quadrant of Christchurch’s central city, it became survival of the fittest; a test of our innate fight or flight responses. Thankfully, for a select group of developers, that response was to fight, in a commercial capacity that is. Richard Peebles, Antony Gough, Phillip Carter, Max Bremner, Tim Glasson and Nick Hunt are just some of the city’s brave legacy leaders. Daring to dream big, they have delivered handsomely. And, on the back of their dogged determination, the central city has got its groove back.
This is perhaps best exemplified by the opening of a world-class venture by Calder Stewart that welcomed a very unique entertainment and dining experience into the CBD when it opened earlier this month. Entertainment Central (EntX) is Calder Stewart’s latest central city development and it’s one that is the talk of the town. With three levels of entertainment, we’ll get to enjoy seven cinemas and 18 eateries in the heart of the CBD. Those confirmed are Cleaver and Co, Joe’s Garage, Two Fat Indians, Infinito, Habitual Fix, Hanoi Old Quarter, Leemo, Nando’s, Nourish Pod, Ottoman Turkish Kebabs, Shanghai Dumplings, Roll and Bowl, and Pad Thai Pan.
Under construction for a year and a half between Colombo, Lichfield and Tuam Streets, the $50 million new Hoyts EntX multiplex replaces the eight-screen Moorhouse Ave complex which the cinema chain lost in the earthquakes. A first for New Zealand, the development incorporates more than 900 electric reclining seats across seven luxury cinemas – two extreme screens with Dolby surround take cinema to an exhilarating new level.
It will be the company’s third multiplex in Christchurch and 11th in New Zealand, and the second in the country with large “xtremescreens”, recliner seats and in-cinema dining.
The opening will bring the number of movie screens in the city to 39. Since the earthquakes the only central city cinema has been the boutique two-screen Alice Cinematique with 74 seats. The Arts Centre plans to open a double-screen arthouse cinema next year.
The development is expected to play an important role in the central city’s reinvigoration. The population of the central city is currently a third lower than before the earthquakes, with the New Zealand Property Council calling the council’s target of 20,000 residents by 2024 unrealistic in a recent report. However, a Christchurch City Council committee is considering a newly announced three-year plan aimed at accelerating the repopulation of the space.
Labelled ‘Project 8011’ after the central city postcode and the estimated number of homes needed to house the 20,000 people, it recommends boosting resident numbers through more housing options, through development incentives including low equity loans, rebates on development contributions and investment from the NZ Super Fund.
But in the meantime, developments such as EntX are heading in the right direction to draw the people in.