Leading the Press this morning is a warning from property developers that the CBD won’t work for residential apartments. A number of developers are quoted, and the general themes they cite are the risk and cost of building apartments.

Mayor Bob Parker said last week that with many businesses settled elsewhere, apartments would be a “safer bet” for developers than office buildings and could drive central-city regeneration.

So as businesses “settle elsewhere” – i.e. move to Sydenham, Addington, Victoria St, where development isn’t being curtailed by CERA – Parker thought that residential might move into the CBD. Great idea, I’d love that. Except anyone the Press asked said that it isn’t going to happen. So businesses don’t want to be in the CBD, now developers won’t build residential in the CBD. Over the weekend I heard stories about one of the key projects that CERA has championed talking about moving out of the innovation project and into Sydenham. The place is going to be a ghost town unless someone changes things soon. The alarm bell’s in Gerry’s office should be ringing.

Another thing that was interesting from this story:

The Government plans to sell land to developers for 600 apartments in the new eastern frame and hopes the first ones will be finished by early 2016.

So … the CCDU blueprint from a year ago said that CERA would buy up a bunch of properties so they could create a frame, right? Now, a year on, CERA is preparing to sell off the land that they acquired – in some cases, against the property owner’s wishes – so they can build apartments. Why? If CERA knew they were going to on-sell this land a year after they got it, why didn’t they say so? Why did they say it was going to go into a “green frame” land bank? Are the details of how much they paid for these sections, and how much they sell them for going to be made public? I understand commercial sensitivity, but the government has the power to beat-down the price they paid to property owners as they could threaten them with compulsory acquisition if they didn’t sell. CERA needs to very open about this, lest they face criticisms about abusing their extraordinary powers.