The new temporary city mall has been open in Christchurch now for a week. Buildings damaged in the earthquake have been demolished and replaced with cargo containers to create a new, temporary, Cashel Mall.
I visited the mall yesterday and was quite impressed with what they have done. The cargo containers have been nicely converted, brightly painted and smartly branded to create some good looking stores.
Rather than just placing them in the street as I had expected, the containers are off to the side in new cleared spaces, and there’s plenty of new tarmac in place and even some greenery and other landscaping features.
There are two main mall areas now – one on either side of the street with the south-side mall replacing what used to be the Guthrey Centre, and the north-side mall replacing what used to be the Shades Arcade as well as the Whitcoulls building and the Old Weekly Press building – my former office.
You’d think it would be strange to stand where my old office used to be and view these cargo-container-stores, but the reality was that it was so far removed from what used to be there that it was actually quite difficult to make the connection. It was only when straying to the attractive wooden boundary fences and peering over that you’re suddenly taken back to the time running right up to, and shortly after, the earthquake.
Looking further up Cashel Mall towards Manchester Street, you can see dusty and damaged streets, car parking buildings with gaping holes along one side, and, of course, the ever-present Hotel Grand Chancellor which is at least now surrounded by cranes suggesting that maybe the end of the building is in sight. There’s even a Fletcher Construction flag hanging from a window way up at the top of the building.
Cargo Container Stores
The stores that have secured a place in what is really quite a tourist attraction include quite a few boutique stores as well as a few other large players. Some of which were in the mall before the quake plus a few others that were in nearby streets that can no longer be accessed.
They include Scorpio Books, Johnson’s Grocers, Diesel, 3 Wise Men, Yoobee (an Apple reseller) the Contemporary Lounge (and Ballantynes still in its original place), Kathmandu, Simply New Zealand and more. There are also two cafes – Crafted Coffee Company and Humming Bird, both of which had queues out of the door.
ASB is the only bank to grab a container, which is fair enough seeing as they appear to be a large sponsor of the mall. The ‘Re:START’ Cashel Mall signs also display the tag line ‘Supported by ASB’.
Parking around the area is plentiful with a few Wilsons $1 an hour car parks along St. Aspaph Street as well as another on the Hereford Street side of the mall and one more right on the land where The Bog used to be (accessed from Lichfield Street).
If you do head to the mall on a busy day, patience is definitely required while driving along the damaged roads as there are obviously lots of places where the lanes suddenly merge and, of course, also lots of people driving while looking at the destroyed buildings and streets either side.
Definitely worth a visit though. It’s fantastic to see some life back in the city centre and even the return of a few buskers.
If you happen to know the musicians and singers that appeared in this video, let me know in the comments below and I’ll add a link to them above.