Working At The Sharp End
- May 13, 2014
- RDT Pacific
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Right now, Christchurch feels like it’s in ‘hurry up and wait’ mode – with frustrations around purchasing land, securing funding, and the consents debacle. But these factors are a distraction from the real pre-construction activities currently underway.
The public doesn’t see the front end of projects, even though it’s where much of the most important work is done. Turning the sod is the first thing most people see, where in fact this is just the final stage of the process. The important work is done behind the scenes: the visions and ideas, business case, stakeholder consultation, design, master planning, feasibility, procurement, contracts, consenting, funding and programming are just some of the activities undertaken before concrete evidence of progress is seen.
RDT Pacific specialises in guiding projects through these ‘behind the scenes’ works. We understand the effort required to consult, scope, and plan projects to ensure they achieve the required objectives, deliver on the financial viability and proceed in an orderly and controlled process. Not spending the time up front to get this vital stage right, means the final constructed result will fail to deliver on expectations.
We’re working behind the scenes with our clients and other consultants, laying the groundwork long before the spade hits the soil. With projects significant in size and complexity, there is a long and careful process that needs to be followed. We are well aware of the commercial realities of development, and the sequence of prerequisites that have to be met to make these significant projects happen.
Most people are aware of the key ingredients that indicate a development’s feasibility: the cost of land, construction and funding, versus rental values. Currently in Christchurch, only funding costs are contained. The costs of land and construction are increasing, while rents (albeit significantly higher since the earthquakes) have a lid of commercial acceptability. This makes commercial development more difficult, particularly when you factor in other potential variables such as land acquisition, insurance payouts, constraints on minimum plot sizes requiring site amalgamation, and consent timeframes.
Most tenants and developers want to do the right thing by Christchurch, but many have been displaced from the centre, and are now operating in new premises on the city fringe and outskirts, with more competitive rents. So what’s a compelling enough incentive to move back to the city?
With the increased rentals being promoted in the CBD, some businesses will inevitably remain on the fringes. But could this be a good thing? We are starting to see smaller neighbourhood hubs developing, with service businesses growing up around these clusters. Hubs are developing along Victoria Street, Lincoln Road and at Goodman’s Show Place development in Addington. We are pleased to be working with Goodman International on the development of Show Place where a further four story office development has already been through the critical ‘behind the scenes’ stage and construction starts in October this year.
The current City Centre Blueprint which promotes minimised congestion and encouraging a pedestrian and social culture within the Centre, is one of the key benefits of the plan and something that’s worth encouraging.
The Government has just announced a commitment to move 1700 state sector employees into four developments around the retail precinct. This will be a catalyst allowing developers to proceed with greater confidence.
We believe we should embrace the Blueprint and what it promotes, and encourage fringe city development. In the meantime, hurry up, as the wait won’t last much longer.
RDT Pacific Managing Director