Urban waterfront opens along Avon River

Urban waterfront opens along Avon River

A $109 million project is transforming the banks of Christchurch's Avon River into an urban waterfront.

The new-look Terraces were opened this afternoon, but the flagship buildings that go with them are running two-and-a-half years behind schedule.

The steps are designed to bring Christchurch residents closer to their own river.

"Because it's in stone, it'll be there for a while I hope and I hope that people will get beautiful things from it," says poet Apriana Taylor.

Prime Minister John Key was on hand to officially open the first stage of the river precinct.

"I think it's great, it's another sign of progress," he says.

"My personal view is that, notwithstanding the frustrations that will come with such a significant rebuild, the Christchurch rebuild is really world-class."

The cost was $109 million of Government money, aimed at rejuvenating two kilometres of prime riverfront land along Oxford Terrace.

This is just the first step. When work's completed at the end of next year, a 50,000 square metre paved space will stretch all the way from the hospital, to the Margret Mahy playground.

There's just one hitch -- the project was planned alongside a $150 million hospitality development of food and restaurants.

It's running two and a half years behind schedule.

"We're just at the moment finishing up a few loose ends with tenants and then my bank funding will kick in," says property developer Antony Gough.

The new target opening date is February next year.

"I'm not worried about that, Rome wasn't built in a day, nor will Christchurch be," Mr Gough says.

"At least you've got people like me who are ever so hopeful and don't take no for an answer."

It's a modern urban waterfront that should be worth the wait.