21 Aug Christchurch city centre retail space going fast

Originally published on True Commercial. See the original article here 

11:00 AM Friday August 21, 2015 Colin Taylor

Retail space in the planned ANZ Centre is among the new Christchurch city centre developments filling up fast.

Almost all the ‘flagship’ ground floor retail units in key new developments in Christchurch city centre are now under negotiation, according to commercial real estate firms Savills and Match.

Ryan Geddes of Savills Christchurch, which has formed a partnership with retail specialist Match Realty to spearhead the regeneration of the city centre’s retail core, says “a tipping point” has now been reached with the city’s core retail precinct under construction, “locked in” and due to be open for business by Christmas 2016.

“In the past few months we’ve started receiving a much bigger volume of inquiries from retailers interested in leasing space in new central-city developments including The Crossing, the ANZ Centre on the old Triangle site and the BNZ centre opposite Ballantynes.

“This is partly because we now have a clear picture of how the city’s retail core will look in 18 months’ time. From The Terrace development beside the river, heading east down Cashel St past Ballantynes and the BNZ Centre and on to The Crossing and the ANZ Centre, major corporate tenants have signed up to fill the office space.”

Of the 180,000sq m of office space due to be constructed between Kilmore, Tuam, Montreal and Madras Streets, 130,000 sq m is now leased, says Geddes. “With the bulk of the office occupiers signed up, the next stage of occupiers – the retailers – are now queuing up for a piece of the action.”

Another key catalyst for the surge in retailer interest is the expected numbers of inner-city workers and residents who will provide the “critical mass” necessary to sustain retailers’ businesses, Geddes says.

By the beginning of 2017, there will be 10,000 office workers in the new developments. By the beginning of 2018, this figure will have grown close to 15,000 people working in offices, hotels and shops within 300 metres of the central retail precinct, according to Savills data.

Crucially, inner-city residents will complement the working population and create a lively, buzzing atmosphere after-hours and at weekends – which is essential for ensuring the viability of the central city retail precinct, says Geddes.

“The government’s ‘Live Central’ campaign aims for 20,000 people to be living within the four avenues by 2025, in several developments including Fletcher Residential’s proposed east and north frame housing project which will be home to over 2000 residents alone. All these people will live within walking distance of the central retail precinct and this will sustain retailers’ businesses outside office hours.”

Based on these numbers, retailers who were shy to commit to the CBD because of uncertainty around construction plans are now keen to secure space in key developments. “The worker and resident population forecasts mean the CBD is now looking very attractive for retailers,” says Geddes.

Aubrey Cheng, retail leasing specialist at Match, says there has been a jump in the number of inquiries from Australian and other international retailers seeking to open flagship stores in New Zealand, including Christchurch. “Several brands such as Topshop and Seed have already opened in Auckland and are set to open Christchurch stores. Other well-known chains are also looking seriously at Christchurch.”

Savills and Match have teamed up to bring a greater level of specialist expertise and relationships to the Christchurch CBD retail leasing market. The companies hold an exclusive agency agreement for leasing the ANZ Centre.

Geddes and colleague Jonathan Lyttle have completed all the office leasing deals in the BNZ Centre and ANZ Centre to date, with the office components of both developments now almost fully occupied.