By Jessica Rowe
Construction has begun on the first multi-storey building in Christchurch’s red zone, almost a year after the February earthquake.
It's expected to be the catalyst for more construction sites to follow, especially after the cordon around the city's red zone is lifted, as early as April.
The four-storey Harcourts building will take around nine months to build, and earthquake recovery minister Gerry Brownlee says it is a significant milestone in the rebuild of the city.
“It's a huge vote of confidence in the future of the CBD and as the first building in there, it is a big commitment for the developer. I'm sure there will be many others that follow.”
Harcourts business owner Robert McCormack hopes his building will encourage others to invest in the future.
“The impetus of what we are doing today, I think it is going to catapult people into making decisions.”
Just yesterday, the Prime Minister announced in his state of the economy address that the Christchurch rebuild is at the top of his priority list and good progress is being made.
Nearly 70 percent of around 1300 buildings approved for demolition have already been bowled, paving the way for a boom in commercial re-development.
Mr Brownlee says the timeline for reconstruction “depends on how many construction sites you can get up and running”.
“I know there is a lot of people doing planning, a lot of interests overlay. I think we are looking at clean palate for property owners to do some really interesting stuff here.”
Authorities are now faced with the challenge of freeing up more land around Christchurch for re-settlement.