Residential property problem looming for CBD

Posted 14 Jul 2015 by PRNews Popular

Residential property problem looming for CBD

Press Release: Lincoln University
Residential property problem looming for CBD

A Lincoln University property expert says demand for office space is being met by projects already underway or outside the core CBD so residential property is the only hope now for large areas of central Christchurch.

Associate Professor in Property Studies, John McDonagh, says the problem with that is whether people would want to live there at the moment.

He says Christchurch now has a hollow core and without substantial office space and the associated spin off retail/hospitality there is less reason than ever to want to live in the CBD of Christchurch.

“Also the boom in new suburban subdivisions is likely to satisfy the majority of residential demand except for the most hardened of inner city enthusiasts, and the current generation of those have largely left the city as they can’t wait around forever for things to improve,” he says.

“I think the opportunity to minimise the social damage to the CBD and thereby hasten its recovery has passed, and we are therefore now into a very long term and slow regeneration of a CBD that people might, some day, want to live in.

“I would really like to be proved wrong on this, but I can’t see any evidence right now.”

Associate Professor McDonagh has long been an advocate of ways to revitalise the inner city and attract residents.

“Before the quakes we already had a “soft core” and my research was that those who could afford to live in the central city did not want to, and those that wanted to, could not afford to.

“My proposed solution was encouraging the adaptive reuse for apartments of the upper floors of much of the redundant and empty upper levels of central city buildings.”

Unfortunately, he says, compliance costs were a significant barrier to innovative developments and the events of 22 February finally put paid to that idea.

“Much of the cheaper building stock that lent itself to this type of residential conversion, and has been the foundation of inner city revitalisation in many other cities, has now gone. The few newer residential apartments that catered for the small upper end of the CBD residential market have also been demolished.

“I have no doubt the central city will eventually be rebuilt – but it will take a long time and it will end up with a very different character.”

Residential uses will be of increased importance in this new CBD, because the earthquake has accelerated the pace of change that was already evident, he says.

Technology and changing workplace practices and culture will support further working from home, mobile offices and suburbanisation of office uses.

Retail had already largely deserted the city. The types of “funky” low rent uses remaining before the earthquake will no longer have suitable low rent premises available.

“The core of the CBD has moved west making the recently announced East Frame project less attractive. There has been much talk about increasing the population within the four avenues, but much more important for an attractive CBD is substantially increasing population within the one way system. This is where you can create a truly urban experience – out towards the avenues it is just traditional medium density flats.

“Hopefully, eventually we will have a much smaller and more intensively developed CBD – both integrating and surrounded by new higher density housing.

“There will be lots of debate, but no major problems in designing a new central city – as we have already seen - the problem is in paying for it and actually making it happen,” he says.


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