Cinema lists quake damage at complex
Reading Cinemas has revealed that its Courtenay Central complex in Wellington suffered torn movie screens, water and projector damage, as well as fallen ceiling tiles as a result of the Kaikoura earthquake.
The entertainment precinct in Courtenay Place has been closed since November, after its neighbouring car park was deemed to be at imminent risk of collapse, and was demolished.
The complex is now being prepared for a long-awaited reopening on Thursday, March 23.
However, questions remain over the Reading Cinemas car park rebuild and the delay-prone Countdown supermarket planned for Courtenay Central.
Any delay in rebuilding the car park is likely to put a squeeze on parking availability in the central city, which is already restricted after November’s magnitude-7.8 quake.
Reading Entertainment Australia managing director Wayne Smith said Courtenay Central complex had suffered ‘‘mainly cosmetic damage’’ during that major jolt.
‘‘The biggest item is cleaning the whole building of dust after sitting idle for these past months,’’ he said from Melbourne.
"The biggest item is cleaning the whole building of dust after sitting idle for these past months." Reading Entertainment Australia managing director Wayne Smith
He rejected reports that the cinemas’ roof was significantly damaged.
When asked whether the company planned to rebuild the car park, he said: ’’Sadly, the car park was demolished, which was unavoidable. From a negative, we are looking at the positives and fresh opportunities.
‘‘It’s very early days, so we have a long way to go in planning for a rebuild.’’
Wellington Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Milford acknowledged that, with more people going into the area, a squeeze on car parking was inevitable.
‘‘We’re going to have to live with the fact that we’ve got hundreds of car parks less, until that issue’s resolved,’’ he said.
‘‘Any owner, landlord, developer, is going to really look hard at what they’re actually going to replace properties with. It may not even be a car park in the future. Who knows?’’
Milford thought the site would ‘‘probably become mixed use’’.
Reading Entertainment’s plans for Courtenay Central include a new indoor pop-up food and entertainment park called The Courtyard, which will be a part of its relaunch.
McDonald’s new 24-hour restaurant, which is being shifted to the front of the complex, is due to open a day later on March 24, with ANZ Courtenay Pl following suit in early April, a bank spokeswoman confirmed on Friday.
Smith confirmed the quake had delayed development of the Countdown supermarket project, but said ‘‘all parties remain committed’’ to it.
Initially, Countdown owner Progressive Enterprises planned to build a 3344-square-metre store on vacant land at the rear of Wakefield St.
However, those plans were delayed when seismic issues were identified at the cinemas’ car park following the 2013 earthquake.
The project was also pushed back by Countdown requesting a redesign.
‘‘Clearly, there are some challenges due to November’s earthquake, and we are working diligently through those issues,’’ Smith said.
A Progressive Enterprises spokesman said the company was ‘‘still working through the details of this development’’ but he was unable to offer further details.
Demolition work at Lower Hutt’s Queensgate mall began in December, resulting in the closure of two nearby roads and a supermarket.