Since the February 2010 earthquake devastated the inner city of Christchurch, a lot of very creative people with great ideas and the tenacity to push them through have popped up. Quite literally.
Re:Start is the pop-up shopping precinct on Cashel Mall. It is the temporary home of many of the CBD’s retailers who have moved their wares into shipping containers that have been painted in bright colours. Not primary colours, as big kahuna Paul Lonsdale explained to me (the visionary behind the project), but lime greens, tomato reds, rusty brown and sky blue. And it certainly has the desired effect: a plop of happiness in the midst of fenced-off ruins.
Ballantynes is the anchor store and they worked all hours to ensure they were back up and running by the opening date in October 2011. There are 27 containers here with a lease from the many and varied landowners, whose buildings are now rubble, until 31 March 2013. At that point they might be picked up and “shipped” off somewhere else to make way for new buildings, or they may just stay here and be incorporated into the new Christchurch.
I had coffee with Carl Sara on the rooftop of his business, the Crafted Coffee Company (in the bright red containers). I counted 7 cranes stretching into the sky, and the sound of diggers and bulldozers is the white noise of a city under demolition. “This is the largest demolition zone in New Zealand,” he said. “Some people might come here and have a ‘moment’, but we see this as a breath of fresh air.”
Further along, past the only other cafe down here, Hummingbird Cafe, and before Workshop who are in an actual building denoting the end of the container mall, is a food court (which is soon to be expanded). Caravans are set up wafting the alluring smells of souvlaki, weiners and woodfired pizza. I met the owner of the pizza kiosk who spent his EQC money to open his now booming business – and dropped $9.50 on him for my lunch! Fill yer boots.
It’s a good time to be here. Other retailers include Storm, Barkers, Hapa, Head over Heels, Hunters and Collectors, Kathmandu, Nicholas Jermyn, Ruby, Johnson’s Grocery, Minnie Cooper, Trelise Cooper, 3 Wise Men and loads more. Click here for the full list >>>
But better yet, pop down for a visit and throw a bit of cash about as Christchurch restarts.