Opinion writer James Dann
Last updated 12:26 02/11/2011
The new Re:Start container mall in Cashel Street.
OPINION: The news in Christchurch over the last week has been dominated by Re:Start, the container mall that has been opened at the end of Cashel Mall.
I've been down twice to check it out and have been delighted by the number of people and the positive feeling it has invoked.
Yet, in spite of the hustle and bustle, I still have a few reservations about the project, and some of the things it suggests about the future of the rebuild.
The first complaint - and this might seem minor - is that there was no provision for bike parking in the mall.
When I went on Saturday afternoon, which was lovely and warm, many people had chosen to bike, and this was reflected in the number of cycles locked up to lampposts, trees - anything they could find really.
Given that I used to walk that mall twice each day, on my way to and from work, I can remember that there were cycle stands. It seems perplexing that they should have been taken out, but especially so when you remember the focus that the draft city plan put on a "cycle-friendly city". This was far from that.
While I realise that the whole mall was put together at very short notice, and this may just be an oversight, it alarms me that one of the main selling points of the city plan seems to have already been forgotten.
But my main worry is more about who Re:Start serves. The project was largely driven by iconic retailer Ballantynes, which I personally have a soft spot for. The other retailers were "hand picked" to join in the project, and are all high-end retail.
When Trade Aid, a long-term retailer in Cashel Mall before the quakes, revealed that they had wanted to participate, but weren't invited, the interests behind the project were clear to see.
Re:Start is an attempt to create a boutique shopping environment for those who can afford to. It reinforces the divides between the haves and the have-nots of post-quake Christchurch.
For those people still waiting for EQC, for clarity as to which colour of the rainbow Cera have placed their house in, there will be little solace in the all-new "makeup hall" at Ballantynes or a $600 leather jacket.
Meanwhile, building consents in Christchurch for September revealed that there were just four new consents for residential building. Four! In spite of the thousands of devastated houses in the east, and Government promises to remove and delays to the rebuild, that figure shows just how stalled the recovery is.
While all the stops have been removed for Re:Start, the restart that really matters seems to have all but stopped