Not all heroes wear capes, some reinvest in a broken city. In Christchurch’s case, it’s a handful of locals who have led the city’s rebuild.
The connection between people and property can seem obvious; property touches every part of our everyday lives. It is a home for business, a playground for shoppers and long-lunchers, for gathering and connecting, and even space where we choose to raise our families. But further to this is the connection that many forget; the link between the people who create these spaces, who design and develop buildings, structures and sometimes even cities for people to live, work, play and shop. Property shapes cities, creating communities and building legacies.
Today, we’d like to recognise just a handful of those city shapers, who kickstarted the regeneration of Christchurch.
Antony Gough | The Terrace
Born and bred in Christchurch, Antony was a property owner and investor pre-quakes, with a family legacy that dates back generations and a property portfolio that grew from a single purchase at age 21. He graduated from the University of Canterbury with a Bachelor of Science in 1970 with honours in nuclear science and was awarded an honorary doctorate in commerce in 2014. He’s been a computer programmer, a sheep farmer in Chertsey, and even a hospitality proprietor. Not your typical route to property, but then again, Antony is anything but typical.
Gough always had strong links to Property Council, having been a past President and long standing member of the South Island Executive Committee. When the earthquakes hit in 2011, Antony was thrust into the role of property developer, electing to reinvest his insurance pay out from his properties along the Avon River (previously known as The Strip) back into the city. While this might seem like an obvious move, it was in reality anything but with around 50% of property owners choosing to take their money elsewhere, effectively draining the city of its investors.
Antony became a vocal and enthusiastic supporter of the central city’s rebuild, fronting an endless campaign to get the city moving again, a crusade that has lasted a decade and continues to this day.
As chairman of the Central City Retailers Association, Gough was instrumental in the development of the Re:Start container mall in Cashel St. Only those with long memories will remember how difficult a challenge that project was to get off the ground, but in hindsight perhaps it was preparing him for the even bigger challenge ahead.
Once the Government’s recovery Blueprint was launched, Antony was amongst the first to start buying central city properties, meeting strict design rules that developers must own a minimum of 7500sqm of land in order to develop. Such rules stalled progress until a handful of well-established property owners stepped up to buy out smaller landlords.
He bucked the trend, electing not to maximise the development potential of this central city site in favour of creating buildings that looked individual, embraced laneways and created spaces for people to promenade.
A devout Buddhist, Antony says he believes in karma. His choice to “build back better” has come at enormous personal expense, both financially and mentally, with some serious setbacks during development that threatened to derail the project. Perhaps if Antony was anyone else the project may have been abandoned, but he is made of stronger stuff, choosing to take the complexities and magnitude of the project in his stride.
A true character and gentleman, Antony has a sense of style that extends far beyond his wonderfully outrageous wardrobe (a favourite game of our South Island team members prior to any Property Council event is to guess what colour suit Antony will wear today – perhaps lavender, or fluro orange paired with a pair of lime green snakeskin shoes?). His commitment to the city and the property sector were recognised in 2015 when he was awarded the Award for Service at the Property Council Southern Excellence Awards. A deserved accolade for one of our industry’s most persistent and flamboyant members.