Christchurch businesses along
Victoria St are welcoming streetscape enhancements and
counting the days until essential roadworks are
It's been business as usual despite the current traffic
congestion as retailers, café and bar proprietors prepare for
the completion of one of the city's first earthquake
Victoria St Streetscape Project Committee chairwoman Wendy
Gilchrist said business owners were keen to let people know
they were still open, with some continuing to trade right
through the disruption that followed in the wake of the
Ms Gilchrist said businesses have welcomed the recently
opened "poetry park" on the former National Radiation
Laboratory site as an amenity that offered a place for people
to rest and relax.
"The city council has done a wonderful job with some
transitional programme funding after negotiating a lease from
the Ministry of Health to use the space," she said.
The park, which features columns of poems from three poets
with strong links to Christchurch, is part of the
transitional street project that includes colourful street
light pole wraps and distinctive designs on bench seats.
"The columns of poetry and the new seating is creating a
lovely sheltered park area for people," Ms Gilchrist said.
"It's a really nice space that has only just opened up. I
don't think people are aware of it."
The Victoria St Streetscape Project was formed to promote the
street and its businesses as part of the new citywide plan.
"Our aim is to ensure the final design for the street
redevelopment is enhanced," she said.
The transitional works were awaiting a transport plan to be
signed off by Earthquake Minister Gerry Brownlee.
"Until that happens we can't progress any further with the
city council as to the final design for the recovery of
Victoria St," Ms Gilchrist said.
Brett Giddens, who has just opened the Tequila Mockingbird
restaurant next door to his aptly named Revival Bar which he
opened in October 2011, is confident the street will become a
top hospitality and entertainment hub.
"It will be one of the first rebuilt areas in the city," he
"It's a good place to be with a fantastic vibe. I wouldn't
want to be anywhere else in the city."
Frogmore homeware, jewellery and fashion accessory store
owner Rosie Austin was closed for a few months while Victoria
St was red zoned, but with the support of her regulars
continued trading during the rebuild.
She is looking forward to the return of office workers - her
"bread and butter" customers - as new buildings rise.
Ms Austin has seen many changes over the 19 years since she
opened her quirky shop and has watched the area transform
from a predominantly retailing and office base into
hospitality and entertainment with more cafes, bars and
"It's going to be fantastic," she said. "It's been missing
the population base over the last few years."
- By Cullen Smith of