Source: Nelson Mail, 26 July 2016
Shipping container shopping is coming to Nelson in a project to transform a central city site.
Construction is underway on "Kirby Lane" between Bridge St and New St, which is expected to be ready for fit-out by retailers in November.
The concept is similar to Christchurch's successful post-earthquake Re:Start mall where shipping containers house a diverse range of retail spaces.
Bridge Street Collective founder Galen King said he had dreamt for several years about how the space next to the co-working office could be used.
"Since early on in the development of The Bridge Street Collective coworking space I had half joked that if the property every came up for sale next-door, I'd love to expand the vision of the Collective."
King said from his present base in New York City that he was passionate about community and bringing people together.
"My hope is that a laneway and pocket park will bring a much needed boost to the vibe in our section of Bridge St.
"The whole purpose of creating a laneway with shipping containers is to create affordable retail, hospitality and office spaces in the heart of Nelson; not tucked away on a back street but right in town with a vibrant community around it."
The space has been vacant for the last nine months after the former building which housed a book shop and clothing store was demolished last October.
It was hoped the Nelson laneway would feature a diverse mix of businesses including local boutiques, craftspeople, artists, clothing stores and eateries with the second level containing office spaces.
King said the goal was to create a mixed-use space including green spaces, seating and play areas for children.
The design of the laneway was being led by Canopy Landscape Architects and Cube Architecture and overseen by project manager Matt Griffin of Aesculus.
The project was being funded privately and with support from The Nelson Building Society.
He said the name was not final, it came from Kirby's Carriers, a business that occupied this piece of land through the mid-1990s.
Nelson Provisional Museum was researching the area which could reveal a more appropriate name for the laneway, King said.
Colliers International real estate agent Steve Power said he was looking for tenants for the lane, with 18 retail spaces available ranging from 13 square metres up to 60 square metres.
Marketed as affordable, the base rent for a space of 14.7 square metres started from $7000 a year.
To keep costs down, tenants will share resources such as toilet facilities, waste disposal areas, and marketing.
Power said it was an opportunity for small businesses to have a space of their own in the central city that had arisen from the demolition of old buildings.
"It's never been available before on this scale because of the size of existing buildings in the CBD," he said.
It would suit small businesses that couldn't afford or didn't want to be tied down in a "normal" shop space.
Construction was on track with the space expected to be ready for retailers to fit out by November 1 then handed over by December 1.
Uniquely Nelson general manager Simon Duffy said Kirby Lane would bring a different vibe to the central city.
He said the development was "fresh, new and forward thinking" and it replicated what was happening in other cities around the country and overseas.
"It just adds a different dimension to the CBD which is good," he said.
"The more people we can have working in town the better.