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Christchurch Quake ‘Red Zone’ now Rebuild Zone, Minister Says

New Zealand’s government has agreements to buy 47 commercial properties in the heart of quake-damaged Christchurch as the city center enters the rebuild phase, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says.

Many central city office towers, hotels and iconic structures such as the cathedral have been within a so-called Red Zone since a devastating quake in February 2011. The cordon has been reduced to 38 hectares from the initial 387 hectares as buildings have been demolished or made safe.

“With over half of all staff working inside Christchurch’s city cordon specifically concentrating on repair and construction, the area can now be re-named the rebuild zone,” Brownlee said in an e-mailed statement.

The government is seeking to buy 350 central city properties to facilitate a new design for Christchurch’s center, including a convention center, sports complex and a riverside precinct. It is in negotiations on 215 properties at present, Brownlee said.

“The enthusiasm of land owners to get the redevelopment moving is a key part” of the city center taking shape, he said.

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