WELLINGTON, July 30 (Xinhua) -- The New Zealand government Monday unveiled plans for building a small and greener central business district in the country's earthquake-battered second city of Christchurch.
At the launch of the Recovery Plan, Prime Minister John Key said the rebuilding of Christchurch was important not only for residents and businesses of the city, but also to the rest of the country.
"This redevelopment of the city will be testament to the past as well as an important step into the future," Key said in a statement, referring to the magnitude-6.3 tremor that killed 185 people on Feb. 22 last year.
"The new-look city center will be home to a variety of attractions. Its central focus will be on the core of the city -- it will be an area that will once again be a vibrant hub with business, retail, and residential development as well as relaxation spaces," Key said.
The CBD would be smaller and its unique green "frame" would contain a state-of-the-art sports stadium, a metro sports facility and a new convention center that could cater to up to 2,000 people.
"We are announcing these anchor projects to provide certainty to the private sector, which is interested in investing in other projects around them such as hotels, restaurants and retail developments," Key said.
"For those anchor projects where the government has the primary responsibility such as the hospital redevelopment, justice and emergency precinct and education facilities, we will get on and get them done for the good of the city."
Key also welcomed the establishment of Invest Christchurch, a new agency to encourage investment into the new Christchurch CBD, which would work with local, national and international investors, businesses and developers to facilitate private sector-led initiatives.
"The private sector will ultimately play the biggest role in the redevelopment of Christchurch's central city so we want to do all we can to make it easier for them to invest in the city," Key said.
"The welcome mat is being rolled out for domestic and offshore investment in the rebuild of Christchurch, which will be one of the largest construction investment opportunities ever to be seen in New Zealand.
"Across the wider Christchurch region, as much as 30 billion NZ dollars (24.24 billion U.S. dollars) will be invested by the government, Christchurch City Council and private insurers in the reconstruction, and the money is already rolling in."
While some residents protested outside the launch of the Recovery Plan about the lack of progress in rebuilding and repairing damaged homes, most businesses and political groups welcomed it.
The opposition Green Party said the "frame" concept of the central city was a strong basis for a more sustainable city.
"More people living in and close to a more compact central city will help create a lively and vital city, enable more efficient public transport links, and help reduce urban sprawl," Christchurch spokesperson Eugenie Sage said in a statement.
"The devil will of course be in the detail -- particularly the rules around building development, controls on big box retail and the opportunities for public input."