It’s been four years since the February earthquake that destroyed our beloved Christchurch, and if you read the headlines in the news these days, the negativity surrounding the rebuild can make these four years seem even longer. The truth of the matter is this: while there’s still a lot of work to do to get Christchurch back to normal, the city itself is recovering slowly, but surely. We can thank the Cantabrians that stuck it out and rebuilt their businesses, and those other Cantabrians and foreigners who saw the opportunity to create new businesses here in our emerging city.

Minding our own Business(es)

Christchurch’s businesses are on the road to recovery and the commercial property market is following close by. New commercial buildings are springing up every month with commercial properties such as the new Vodafone Building, the Kathmandu Building, and Craig’s Investment Partners House leading the charge. Why the sudden interest?

Well, it’s not sudden at all. Over the last four years CERA, the Christchurch Central Development Unit and small and big business have been working towards the rebuild that the media are finally starting to pay attention to. Right now Christchurch is playing the game of ‘Watch this Space’ as there are plenty of new developments planned within the next 18 months. One of the best things we can take from this is that less people are leaving the region and therefore more people are committing to making Christchurch a city worth living in.

Christchurch Businesses: Staunch as Ever

We don’t want to dwell on the past, but with so much negativity around the Christchurch rebuild, it’s time to remember exactly what our city and the businesses here went through. On September 4th at 4am in 2010 an earthquake that read 7 on the Richter scale hit just outside of Christchurch. While it caused substantial damage to the city and the region, it was nothing compared to the magnitude 6.3 earthquake that would follow in February 22, 2011. Considered a mere aftershock of the 2010 quake, this earthquake killed 185 people, damaged entire neighbourhoods and destroyed the region’s infrastructure.


Despite all of this adversity, businesses in Christchurch showed, and continue to show a remarkable resilience in the face of these two massive earthquakes, a multitude of large and small aftershocks, and a completely altered city.

Business as Usual in Christchurch

Most people expected the number of Christchurch businesses to dramatically fall in the wake of these devastating earthquakes. Why would anyone want to stay in city that has just been decimated? Even if your business had stayed upright through the shakes, what about your customers? The entire landscape of the city changed, affecting the day to day routines of all businesses, not matter what industry you were in.

Surprisingly, the number of businesses has remained fairly constant. Consider this: In February 2011, there were roughly 37,340 businesses operating in Christchurch. And in February 2012, 36,420 businesses were operating, which is only a small 2.5 percent drop. Considering that many businesses weren’t covered by insurance, it’s no wonder some of them had to close their doors.

Taking Care of Business

With the changing landscape of the city comes a changing landscape of commercial business. More businesses that deal with construction have popped up, not to mention individual contractors starting their own consultancy practices. The post-earthquake changes in businesses and employees have been more pronounced in some industries than in others, but we’re just happy that there are industries that are thriving in Christchurch such as:

  • Painting and decorating services
  • House construction
  • Consulting services
  • Insurance services
  • Cafes and restaurants
  • Pubs, taverns, and bars

Out with the Old and In with the New

Business development in Christchurch isn’t just a new trend for 2015. It’s been happening since 2011 with the creation of the Re:START Mall.

Start Over

The Re:START mall is a temporary mall built using colourful shipping containers on the earthquake-ravaged City Mall retail space in Cashel Street, just seven months after the February Earthquake. Since October 2011, Re:START has grown considerably, increasing from a mere 27 businesses at the opening to over 50 businesses today. In addition to the retail shops there are also market stalls, daily street performers and buskers during the week and on the weekends, making it a destination spot tourists visiting the region. It has been so popular that it has helped Christchurch make the top ten of Lonely Planet’s ‘must visit’ places in the world. Not bad for a bunch of containers! Created thanks to an interest free loan of $3,368,523 from the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust and another $300,000 in sponsorship from ASB, Re:START will continue to be an important part in the changing landscape of Christchurch during the rebuild.

Quality Street

Just recently the new New Regent Street was launched, reopening to retailers, and reinvigorating Christchurch shopping for both residents and tourists. The resurgence of interest for one of Christchurch’s most iconic streets is helping build more excitement for the new $85 million dollar Christchurch City Library being built just around the corner.

The New Central Library is currently expected to open in 2018 and will replace the old central library that was located in Gloucester Street that was severely damaged in the earthquakes. The new Central Library will have a modern cafe, a 200-seat community arena for events and concerts, an exhibition space for local artists, and multiple outdoor terraces and areas for families, children and youth.

In other positive news, the infamous Christchurch Tram will be back on the streets with an extended route that includes New Regent Street, as it was an original part of the route around the city.

The Future is Coming to Christchurch

While we’ve already reaped the benefits of the Re:START Mall and New Regent Street, we have a lot more to look forward to. From a state of the art retail precinct to an emotion stirring earthquake memorial, Christchurch is gearing up to be New Zealand’s top destination in a few years. Have a look at what the future holds…

Retail Precinct

The Retail Precinct will offer Cantabrians and our visiting tourists a world-class shopping and cultural experience that, while modelled after iconic parts of the retail worlds in London, New York City and Paris, will reflect the essence of modern Christchurch.

Situated south of The Square, this innovative retail precinct will be composed of High, Hereford and Lichfield Streets and our infamous Oxford Terrace. While remaining a distinct part of the Christchurch rebuild, the Retail Precinct will still be connected to other anchor projects in the area, such as the Te Papa Ōtākaro/Avon River Precinct, the Convention Centre Precinct, The Square, the Bus Interchange and the Justice and Emergency Services Precinct. As Christchurch continues to grow at a surprising rate, commercial property projects such as the Retail Precinct will become absolute cornerstones of our emerging city. And at Cowdy, we couldn’t be more excited for the future!

Lichfield Holdings

Now that businesses that relocated to the suburbs after the earthquakes are moving back into the centre, there are more opportunities for commercial property owners to create some attractive spaces to entice new tenants. Local investors, Lichfield Holdings Ltd, are building an incredible office space in the new Cashel Mall complex, where Whitcoulls, Shades Arcade and Old Weekly Press were previously located. The project features extensive ground floor retail, multi-levelled office space and a 1000m² green gathering and lunch space in the heart of the block.

Incorporating several laneways, ala Melbourne-style, the building will also include a glass atrium allowing for natural light to permeate the interior. The building is being constructed at more that 100% of the new Building Code Standard and will also be eco-friendly.

The Terrace

The first major rebuild development in the Christchurch central city promises to combine innovative urban design with an unbeatable location overlooking the Avon River. Based on Melbourne designs, The Terrace will be an example of master city planning combining European flair with Christchurch’s natural beauty. Beginning with Oxford Terrace, the Terrace will be the dynamic centre of Christchurch, heaving with office space, boutique hotels, artist studios and substantial car parking to support local and independent retailers and restaurants.

The first part of the project includes three new buildings facing onto Oxford Terrace and a fourth facing Hereford Street. When it’s completely finished the Terrace will encompass nine buildings in total along with, six laneways, a promenade and multiple bridges connecting different areas of the development. More than 10 elevators and several staircases will provide accessibility and choice, allowing disabled and wheelchair access.


There are incredible opportunities for businesses in Christchurch – get in touch with us today to see how we can help you with your commercial needs. As one of Christchurch’s longstanding businesses, we understand the landscape, the transformation and bright future of this brilliant city and we’re here to help you.

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