Would You Live In The Christchurch CBD?

Despite the best efforts of local developers, established rebuild plans, drawcard anchor projects and the Christchurch City Council, construction of inner city apartment style living as part of the Christchurch rebuild has seemingly stalled in Christchurch’s CBD.

The big plan was to entice more residents back into the CBD, creating a lively and vibrant city centre – effectively bringing the city centre back to life. However with Christchurch residents facing neither the geographical restrictions nor inflated house prices of other New Zealand cities such as Auckland and Wellington, people are able to make a more personal choice.

Current Residential Development In The Christchurch CBD

Even in light of several residential construction projects either under way or completed as part of the East Frame Anchor Project (now referred to as One Central) new residential development appears to be struggling to attract its most important element – the people – and on face value it is unclear why.

The new One Central apartment and townhouse style living caters to a variety of lifestyles and life-stages is said to be earmarked to provide “medium density living for around 2000 people”, equating to roughly 900 homes.

Within the 14 hectare designated East Frame area the residential development is only half of the plan with the remainder set to be streets, open spaces and paved areas including a central ‘green’ area set aside for the large Rauora Park.

Spanning the length of five city blocks Rauora Park provides an elongated green space in the centre of the One Central residential area and is now considered the third largest park in Christchurch.

Currently for sale at One Central are the Latimer Terraces development at 197 Hereford Street, priced at around 1.5 million for a three bedroom 3 bathroom home. The Bedford Terraces complex on the corner of Rauora Park and Lichfield Street is offering 3 bedroom 2 bathroom apartments for around $780,000.

The Bedford Apartments are offering 1 and 2 bedroom apartment living currently under construction due for completion by the end of 2019. The Liverpool Terraces located on the block between Cashel Street, Hereford Street and Madras Street are also now under construction due for completion in late 2019. These will include a range of 1 to 3 bedroom homes.

Why Are People Choosing To Avoid The City Centre?

It’s obvious the promised inner city homes and infrastructure are starting to emerge which is encouraging, so why are sales so slow resulting in several major apartment developments being either put on hold or abandoned due to the lack of demand. What is holding people back?

Top 6 Reasons Why People Don’t Want To Live In The CBD

It seems along with something of a ‘wait and see’ approach that has developed among potential buyers there appears to be little desire among Cantabrians for the type of high-density living these inner city developments offers. So what are the main reasons why people don’t want to live in the Christchurch CBD?

  1. Insufficient Parking. Christchurch residents are used to having fairly adequate off street parking, apartment style living is likely to have very limited (1 parking space) or no off street parking.

  2. High Property Prices. Looking at our price indications above, it is clear living in the inner city is not going to be cheap.

  3. Perceived Security Issues. The lack of development of the Anchor Projects and city infrastructure can be off-putting adding to the existing perception of a ‘ghost town’, and ultimately resulting in a lack of community feel and vibe.

  4. Competition From The Suburbs. Christchurch, Selwyn District and the Waimakariri District’s  suburbs have experienced huge building booms and an oversupply of new housing available at more bang for your buck, all within reasonable commuting distances.

  5. Too Many Comparable Options. People generally choose to live in a CBD because of two main factors – price and convenience. However in Christchurch it is possible to buy a relatively affordable house quite close to the CBD, rendering the need to purchase within the CBD less attractive.

  6. Limited Apartment Culture. Christchurch has an aversion to high density living. Noise levels, community involvement and smaller property sizes are all things people consider when thinking of moving to the inner city, why choose these things when you don’t have to.

Barriers To Further Residential Development

Along with a general reluctance among the current population for high density living there are some barriers to more viable residential development identified in a report reviewing the future of the Christchurch Central Residential property market commissioned by the Property Council of NZ. The following barriers to CBD repopulation from the perspective of developers were highlighted.

  • High Construction Costs. Costs to build particularly where additional land remediation or specialised foundations are required do not equal the final property values.

  • Land Values. Due to uncertainty land banking has become the norm, there is no desire to develop or sell existing land.

  • Consent And Compliance Issues. The costs and time frames associated with consent and compliance are too high.

  • Lack Of Certainty. The cancellation or postponement of many aspects of the original Anchor Projects and other high profile developments makes residential development riskier for developers.

What Is The Plan To Get People Into The CBD?

In light of this increasingly obvious dilemma the Christchurch City Council has created a three year plan aimed at accelerating the CBD repopulation.

Project 8011 as it is known is designed to fast track the desire for homes for 20,000 people to be available within the CBD, providing a wider choice of homes and potential development incentives to “get things moving”.

This project looks at the concept of offering attractive incentives to relocate to the CBD including things like free parking, improved public transport, the completion of the Anchor Projects, increasing options for tourist accommodation and a dedicated CBD consenting team.

Perhaps a shift in focus is required from the current ‘build it and they will come’ attitude to supporting solutions that promote residential demand generators such as things like encouraging and supporting new businesses, enticing more education providers and events to the CBD, therefore improving the overall desirability of the CBD as a place to live.

There’s no doubt that a vibrant Christchurch CBD is good for our city, and good for the country. Pre-quake speaks for itself. In the last 20 years Wellington City has worked hard to develop their dynamic cityscape and they are a great example of what it will be possible for us to achieve down here…in time.

But for now, it seems the suburbs reign supreme!

Why Build New?

If you’ve read this far down the page, maybe we’ve earned the right to ask a cheeky question. So here goes… if you live in Canterbury and you’re thinking about selling and moving on to another area in the district, why would you buy a used house when you can build new (with all the modern technology and conveniences) for the same money or even less?

OK it’s a rhetorical question, but why not think about it. Clean, modern house design and more importantly, built to suit your lifestyle and budget. If you like the idea of getting better value and building a new home, then Build 7 would love to show you the options – not all local builders are the same!