Chch businesses still recovering
Tue, 04 Sep 2012 6:04p.m.
By Jessica Rowe
Despite the anger and disappointment at its pace, there has been progress following the Canterbury earthquakes.
A number of businesses forced to close after the September earthquake are back up and running. The inner-city cordon is slowly shrinking, opening up the CBD and paving the way for the rebuild to begin.
Well-known bar and restaurant Saggio Devino is back in business after being closed for almost two years. Their block on the corner of Victoria St was damaged in the September quake, and hit again in February.
It was one of the first buildings in the city to be demolished, and a new three-storey building has popped up in its place.
“We certainly had our days with struggling through when your life is taken upside down, but we are back and we love it,” says Sergio Devino owner Lisa Scholz.
Westende Jewellers is another to reopen. Their central city shop crumbled in the September quake and became the poster building on the nightly news.
“We took a long time before we even looked at setting up a new store on a new site because we never knew how long the cordon or red-zone was going to be in place,” says Andrew Kelso. “Was it going to be two months? Six? Now we are looking at years.”
Buildings damaged inside the city red zone in September and February continue to be demolished at a furious rate. Already, 80 percent of the 1600 buildings that need to go have been ripped down, leaving about 300 left to be demolished.
“Canterbury is now the biggest and fastest economic growth area in the country, and that is entirely due to the resilience in the business community here and the adaptability of the workforce has been quite extraordinary,” says Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee.
Some of the more challenging buildings are under demolition, and all of that will lead to the opening of the city and the prospects of getting on with the delivery under the new plan.
As businesses wait for more details on the city blueprint, owners make the most of the empty spaces. Even a converted bus is now a popular city bar.
“We think what is going to be available in Christchurch over the next few years is a lot of empty sites,” says bar owner Johnny Moore. “So we came up with a model that swats itself of those empty sites and once the buildings come down, something has got to go there if you don’t want a carpark.”
Two years on, Christchurch is desperate to see a new beginning – a new city emerge from the rubble.
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