TOM HOOPER: "As a local government agency, it's important for CDC to show commitment to re-establishing and helping to rebuild and re-populate a CBD."
Christchurch's economic development agency is moving back into the heart of the city, saying it wants to encourage other businesses into the central business district.
The Canterbury Development Corp will take about 40 staff and associates into a Cashel Mall office with an official opening of their upstairs office from July 25.
Chief executive Tom Hooper said the more businesses that committed to coming back to the central business district, the more confidence others would have in investing, or relocating there. The CDC team was moving into the former ''Sony'' building at 99 Cashel St, near the former Shades Arcade.
The upstairs level would also house staff from the earthquake-related Recover Canterbury, a joint venture between CDC and the Canterbury Employer's Chamber of Commerce. However over the next 12 months the number of Recover Canterbury staff would reduce, with CDC staff focusing on a number of strategies.
''As a local government agency, it's important for CDC to show commitment to re-establishing and helping to rebuild and re-populate a CBD which was - and will again be - the engine room of our economy," Hooper said.
Throughout the recovery phase, CDC had been working closely with the Christchurch City Council and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority on plans to reinstate the central city.
''Moving back into the CBD will allow for greater collaboration and ensure staff are at the coalface of the central city rebuild," Hooper said.
CDC staff lost their Union House premises, also in Cashel St, in the February earthquake. Since then they had been working out of a converted warehouse in Addington but in somewhat cramped conditions, Hooper said.
The move to the upstairs premises in Cashel Mall would probably not be the last move within the central city, with other premises likely in the meantime. But first it was necessary to make its presence felt.
"It's time now for us to re-establish ourselves in an area that will become the hub of the recovery," Hooper said.
''In terms of the culture of the organisation it will be fantastic to be in a better place.''
Commercial real estate manager Jonathan Lyttle helped CDC find the new site.
The commercial leasing team at Colliers International in Christchurch was fielding daily inquiries from companies wanting to return to the inner city, he said.
"Tenants we're talking with are telling us how keen they are now to re-establish a presence in central Christchurch.'