1491813976827 - Christchurch developers challenge city council to front up over parking

Christchurch developers challenge city council to front up over parking

Subsidies and long-term council leases of “shopper spaces” in parking buildings may be required to solve Christchurch’s parking woes. 

Estimates suggest will there be more than 14,000 office workers west of Colombo St by next year, more than 9000 of them west of the Avon River near the parking-strapped health precinct. 

Calder Stewart development manager Kevin Arthur said the temporary police station site in St Asaph St could be used for a car park building when the existing lease ends next year, but a subsidy on parking charges might be necessary to make it stack up financially.

He estimated the 1.2 hectare site could accommodate about 600 cars and a multi-storey building could be ready by early 2019.

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Charges of $4 to $5 an hour would be too expensive for the average nurse or hospital visitor “so there needs to be some level of subsidy somewhere from the CDHB or the council, and at the moment that’s not on the table”.

Arthur said extensive discussions over use of the land for hospital purposes had gone nowhere for three or four years, but had recently been “reinvigorated”.

A Ministry of Health spokeswoman said the ministry recently had “positive discussions” with Calder Stewart about future options for the temporary police station site on St Asaph St, but could not comment further.

Calder Stewart is also developing the Hoyts cinema and dining precinct in Colombo St and Arthur raised the idea of council subsidies to keep the price down for night time users of nearby car park buildings.

He said paying $4 an hour was likely to “frighten off” movie-goers, who would instead patronise suburban theatres with free parking. 

“We’re hoping it will be about $1 an hour. We’d love to see the council step in and provide a subsidy for that because it brings people back into the city”.

With $6m left in its budget for car parking, the Christchurch City Council has said it is looking to private/public partnerships to provide future parking.

Developers said that with each bay in a car park building costing more than $25,000, some incentives were needed. 

StudioD4 director and developer Patrick Fontein​ has been involved in discussions over a parking building for the performing arts precinct and convention centre area, and he said one option was that the council take out a long term lease on part of it.

Fontein​, who built the innovation precinct car park building, said banks assessing a loan would only take into account long-term leased parking, which made it difficult to push short-term parking over the line.

“That puts a big hand brake on any investor trying to do a car park.”

He said weekly leases of $65 to $75 a week per park were needed to make a Christchurch car park building viable, which was still much less than the $100 to $150 charged for weekly covered parking in Auckland or Wellington.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the only parking issue raised with her by developers related to on-street parking in the CBD.

“We’re working behind the scenes on parking for the performing arts precinct and health precinct through Development Christchurch, which is very engaged with developers,” she said.

City councillor Jamie Gough, who chairs a development forum which includes representatives from the business community, said it was worrying to see an anchor project such as the convention centre did not have any associated car parking. 

He said he personally thought council subsidies and leasing of spaces would encourage developers to invest in more car park buildings and help solve the city’s “atrocious” parking situation.

“The council could take a lease or under write a portion of it [a building] for short-term parking”.

Last week, Ngai Tahu Property opened the new 683-bay West End car park building beside its King Edward Barracks office complex, and businessman Tim Glasson opened a $30m, 580-bay car park in Hereford St.

Ngai Tahu Property development manager Gordon Craig said the council needed to sit down and talk to developers because they would not be prepared to invest in more new car parking buildings without understanding the council’s intentions. 

“We could come up with a parking strategy that reflects where the development nodes are, where the people are going to be and where the after hours needs are, such as the Piano, the Isaac theatre Royal and New Regent St.”