Quirky container retail hub proposed for city site

The demolished site next to the Bridge Street Collective. Marion van Dijk / Fairfax NZ

A vibrant, outdoor hub with pop-up shipping containers, not unlike those seen in Melbourne and Christchurch, is among potential plans for an empty site in central Nelson.

The earthquake-prone Bridge St building next to the Bridge Street Collective came tumbling down this month, and owner Galen King said it might be a long time before another permanent building stands there again. 

"Our desire and goal is to try and create a public space, like a pocket park," he said. 

The Re:Start Mall in Christchurch has played a huge part in revitalising the city in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquakes.

King has been working with the council and architects to gauge what is feasible for the space, which also connects to New Street.

He said while nothing was set in stone as yet, an ideal result would be for shipping containers of food and retail along with a childrens playground to vacate the space. 

"The idea is to create something that's adding value to this part of town, something that can allow children and families to relax in the city," he said. 

"But we don't quite know what's possible yet, we are working on how we can make it sustainable."

He also wanted to make sure whatever the space held would compliment, rather than compete with businesses that surround it. 

While the planning process was still underway with the Nelson City Council, King said he hoped something would be in the empty lot by the end of the year.

The idea of using shipping containers was inspired largely by Melbourne and Christchurch, where pop-up stores have thrived in the rubble of demolished buildings.

"It's about creating a permanent space with impermanent structures," he said.

"We can make an active, vibrant, inspiring space that's not there for just for six months or a year, and down the track as Nelson develops and grows there's still opportunity to do something more permanent."

Original plans to expand co-working space the Bridge Street Collective, which King also owns, were put on the back-burner given the existing amount of empty office spaces in Nelson already, said King.

"[The new expanded office space] wouldn't have been a cheap low-end space because of the cost for development, and it would have felt a bit irresponsible, I'd rather see the other empty office spaces [in the city] filling up if there is demand for them," he said. 

King hopes to gauge interest from the public to see what types of shipping containers could operate in the space.