Empty spaces mean the Christchurch City Council's flash new $31.3 million car parking building appears to be haemorrhaging money. The Lichfield St car park's loss was $18,000 in March alone – it made $69,000 in revenue but cost $87,000 to run.
The 805-space central city building opened in November. Last Monday, Central City Business Association chairman Brendan Chase said the building regularly had more than 500 free spaces.
Using Christchurch's under-occupied Lichfield St car park building for hospital visitors would solve several problems at once, a city business leader says.
Hospital patients and visitors have reported struggling with the poor conditions at the Deans Ave park-and-ride site, which is in use until a new building is built in 2020.
The temporary site, linked by a shuttle bus to the hospital 2km away, is unsealed, flood-prone and potholed. It lacks good-quality shelter in bad weather especially affecting those who are elderly, disabled or unwell.
The poor state of outdoor car parking in Christchurch has been a perennial subject since the city started to open up again after the earthquakes. For operators it seemed to be as simple as fencing off some gravel and knowing they would come. But Christchurch Hospital's park and ride car park on Deans Ave has set a new low.
The Press revealed the shocking condition of the car park, which is on the opposite side of Hagley Park from the hospital. In the absence of any parking while the hospital is being rebuilt, patients and visitors must park on a muddy, remote stretch of land, pay $5 and wait for a shuttle to move them to their destination.
More than 40,000 cars have used Christchurch's new central city parking building since it opened in November, averaging 653 vehicles a day.
When it opened, the 805-park Lichfield St car park building was heralded by the Christchurch City Council as a "massive milestone" for a city struggling with gravel pits for parks and relying on on-street spaces. The building cost the council $31.3 million.
A proposal to offer one hour of free parking at all Christchurch City Council-owned off-street car parks will be put before councillors next month.
The Christchurch City Development Forum has recommended the council adopt the one-hour free policy for four months, starting in October, to coincide with the opening of the council-owned 800-space Lichfield St car park.
Tourism leaders want the Christchurch CBD to focus on what it can add to the region's status as the gateway to the South Island, in order to bring more tourists to the central city.
Last week, ChristchurchNZ business development manager Caroline Blanchfield said few visitors were coming into the Christchurch CBD, which needed to offer a "better" visitor experience than it did now.
It's lunchtime on the shortest day of the year. Winter sunshine has lured office and construction workers, shoppers and tourists onto the streets of central Christchurch's retail precinct.
On days like these, you can glimpse of how the fully rebuilt city centre could be. People are relaxing on the riverbank, enjoying spicy lunches at the container mall, sipping coffee in the ANZ Centre cafe, browsing in shops along Cashel St, and lounging in beanbags in the BNZ Centre square.