Saying nay can be risky, so this is more of a skeptical note rather than nay-saying.Zaanen, who is also involved with the New Brighton Project, said the pop-up mall could be housed on Marine Parade, opposite the library.''It's the perfect place and I totally think it could work," he said.''Everyone, including the council, wants to see New Brighton moving forward and while there's always going to be nay-sayers who don't think it could work, that's not the sort of attitude we want.''He said some of the current Re:Start retailers were ''naturally aimed at this market'', while others would not work in the area.''We can tweak it and make it fit this area and obviously the landscaping would be different because we're at the beach, not in the CBD.''
The New Brighton Mall has been in really poor shape for rather a while. I've lived in South New Brighton since 2005 and watched the Mall's decline since then, even before the quakes. Higher end retailing simply cannot survive there unless there's either a reasonable gentrification push or the retail development is sufficient to pull in tourists or people from the rest of town. The modal retailer on the Mall, currently, is a dollar store.
The Re-Start Mall has been great. I've really enjoyed going there and wouldn't mind at all if it continued in that space. But it works, at least in part, because of where it is. There wasn't a lot else going on downtown for a while, but that's where tourists and others still wanted to go. Put something cool in a spot where people want to be and it'll do well. Move some fraction of it out to the Brighton Pier and, well, I really hope it does well.
I'm not saying it can't be done; Cassels have done a great job of turning a Woolston warehouse into an upscale retail development anchored by a fantastic brewpub. It's a destination. But they started with the Brewpub, saw that they could draw people in, then started expanding out. Brighton has a few great features - the Pier and library are lovely. Switch and Fuze are great cafes; South of India has some of Christchurch's best Indian food. And there's the beach. But the Brighton Mall's just a bit sad.
Here's how it could work though. Developers who've been sitting on really run-down rental houses around the Brighton Mall might see the Re-Start move as the trigger for bowling the darned things and finally putting up some higher density, higher end housing. The zoning changes allowing this to happen came in 2009 and, unfortunately, coincided with the worst of the recession and then the earthquake. The land along Marine Parade is TC2-Yellow, or about as good as most of Christchurch. The Brighton area then starts attracting more residents who can support some of the higher-end retail and cafes beyond the initial tourist interest.
We'd then want an express bus route from the downtown bus station to the Brighton Mall so that tourists had some hope of getting there. We'd also want the EQC offices to put a higher priority on sorting out anything involving the L4 and L3 land around the Brighton Mall. I wish I knew what were now holding things up. The city has a massive housing shortage and few places allowing for high-density development. New Brighton has land with the right zoning. Is it that developers reckon the Brighton beach can't be gentrified, or are there substantial insurance issues yet to be resolved?
Conflicts disclosure: I live down in South Brighton, and so I suppose I do better where the New Brighton Mall isn't a dive. I frequent some of the shops on the New Brighton mall, but am pretty unlikely to start taking any bus from the Brighton Mall to downtown.