Refurbished High St Building Another Piece in CBD Retail Jigsaw

08 November 2017

The re-emergence of Christchurch’s High St as a fashion hub is about to take another step forward, with the opening of the former Work and Income NZ building following a major refit.

231 High St, located mid-way between Strange’s Lane and The Crossing on the western side of the street, was on Christchurch City Council’s ‘dirty 30’ list earlier this year.

Since then, interior architects Element 17’s redevelopment has completely transformed the building, says Savills agent Ryan Geddes, who is handling leasing the spaces.

“The building was gutted and strengthened following the earthquakes, providing two levels of blank canvas space to be refurbished. That project is now complete and we have a tenant confirmed for the first floor. We’re also in negotiations with retailers to fill the three ground floor retail units.”

Change Healthcare, formerly known as McKesson, has leased the first floor, which has around 600sq m of open-plan office space. The company is part of a global group which provides IT solutions to the healthcare sector.

“We had a lot of interest in the upstairs office space, given its CBD location and the vision of the owners and architects,” says Geddes. “We’re seeing a similar response for the ground floor retail units, which offer a prime spot between H&M and Strange’s Lane.”

The retail units are most likely to be leased to clothing retailers, given the ‘edgy’ design of the refurbished building and the nature of the surrounding tenants both pre and post-earthquake, Geddes says.

“This block is considered prime, core retail space in the rebuilt CBD, and the fact that it’s so close to H&M is proving a strong drawcard for fashion retailers. This location is now emerging as a favoured spot for streetwear, echoing the pre-earthquake tenant mix here.”

Stencil and AS Colour are due to open in the neighbouring Strange’s and Bonnington House buildings, with Hunters and Collectors about to start a refurbishment of the brick building next door, he says.

“We’re finding certain tenants who were established in High Street before the earthquakes are now gravitating back here.”

The success of The Crossing, as well as Carter Group’s recently-announced plans for the site opposite the property at 170 Cashel St (formerly home to the Holiday Inn) consolidates 231 High Street’s position as a prime location for retail, says Geddes.

“Since the opening of The Crossing, we have been fielding enquiries from national and international retailers who are keen to come here. Now when we bring retailers into the CBD to see the development, they’re blown away by the transformation that has taken place.”

With several international retailers “seriously interested” in leasing space in 170 Cashel St, the units across the road at 231 High St “are sitting in a very good spot”, Geddes says.

Chris Rive, designer at Element 17, says paying homage to the building’s original form was one of the goals of the refurbishment project. With builders Whyte Construction, the building was re-clad in steel, with vertical lines visually complementing the Strange’s and Bonnington House buildings.

“Band-sawn cedar brings contrast with the steel and an organic aspect, reflecting the use of natural materials like stone and brick found in the surrounding buildings,” says Rive.

Inside, several existing features were retained, referencing the building’s history, says Sharon van Kampen, Designer at Element 17. “The post-earthquake strengthening steel has been left exposed, contrasting with the clean fresh white of the walls and adding interest.”

The industrial feel is continued throughout the office fit-out, with the existing concrete floors polished and the central concrete columns left exposed, with glimpses of street art telling the story of the building’s past, van Kampen says.

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Key Contacts

Ryan Geddes

Ryan Geddes

Office Leasing

Savills Christchurch

+64 (0) 21 395 518