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Christchurch businesses are returning to city center, real estate firm says

Christchurch businesses are returning to the city center after relocating to the suburbs following the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.

Part of downtown Christchurch.
Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

Commercial real estate company Colliers said vacant office space returned to pre-earthquake levels and was at its third lowest level since the company started tracking data in 1993.

Colliers’ commercial leasing manager Brynn Burrows said many businesses that had moved downtown because of the earthquakes were drawn by financial incentives from landlords to fill in the blanks.

“Many companies had to take long-term leases outside of the CBD after the earthquake. They would have used their insurance payouts to pay for the fitting out of temporary offices, which meant they really had to take care of it. “said Burrows.

“Now, to efficiently occupy the rest of the buildings [in the CBD] landlords have offered incentives, much of it rent free, and this allows tenants to invest in new developments in the CBD. “

Cheap rent, new office space, and the desire of staff to work in what is now considered a vibrant city also contributed to the change, Burrows said.

Businesses outside of the city were also starting to notice what was on offer, as many of their employees considered it a relatively affordable place to live in terms of housing prices, he said.

The Christchurch office market had also been shown to be immune to much of the Covid-19 work-from-home phenomenon that had affected office occupancy in Auckland and, to a lesser extent, Wellington.

“I think Christchurch is a little different… in that the effect hasn’t resulted in a lot of sublet space, which you see in the Auckland and Wellington markets,” Burrow said.

Christchurch did not suffer from the same congestion issues as other cities, so the daily commute to the office was less intimidating, he said.

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