Rebuild story

  • We are now fully leased (8/29/2017)

    Our fab new building is now fully leased. 

    From July the building was fully tenanted, with Coffee Culture and Absolute Beauty downstairs, and local accountants Ashton WheelansIncite consultants and Habitat Chiropractic inhabiting the upstairs floor. 

    Is awesome to see all our tenants on the building sign. Photo courtesy of Habitat Chiropractic.

  • We are open! (10/19/2014)

    The all new improved Blackwell’s Department Store is officially open. It’s the next big step in one of many we’ve already made, with more planned.

    The new store features two new retail spaces, an upgrade to the surviving spaces from the old store, some wonderful tenants sharing the building with us, a coffee shop preparing to open on one corner, a nice new West entrance, and customer parking.

    Our showroom spaces are full with new stock in all departments, including clothing, shoes, homeware, gifts, fishing & hunting, curtains, bedware, and carpets, so come visit us and check out the new store. We look forward to seeing you.

    The all new Blackwell's Department Store in November 2013
    The all new Blackwell’s Department Store in November 2013, image courtesy of Tonic Design
  • Coffee Culture now open in Kaiapoi (6/9/2014)

    Coffee Culture logoWe’re very excited to have our friends from Coffee Culture up and running at the North-end of the new Blackwell’s store.

    They have a great new fit-out, awesome coffee and food, and free WiFi.

    Yet another great reason to visit Blackwell’s in Kaiapoi!

  • We’re open! (11/29/2013)

    Today is our official opening day of the new store. Woohoo!

    Keep you’re eyes pealed for a TVOne story about us, and we’re in the Press today as well.

    Kaiapoi's Rebuilt Blackwells Department Store Returns... - Google Chrome

  • September tour (9/10/2013)

    We took our favourite website mates for a tour of the new building over the weekend. Here’s what we showed them.

    From the West side the new entrance is looking good. The lift is in and the stairway to the first floor is operational.

    The upstairs spaces are really looking good, with the gib work almost completed and carpet laid. We’ve leased one space and there is one excellent small office area on the South side and the Nor-west upstairs corner still available.

    BlackwellsRebuild-7Sept13 (4)

    The view from the upstairs corner office is great, looking out over the bridge and the Kaiapoi river.

    Downstairs, the cafe area is going to be a great space for a coffee, and we can’t wait to start filling the new showroom with stock.


  • August update (9/2/2013)

    With a hint of Spring in the air, it’s time for an update. Construction has been going well, and as the month ended the scaffolding started to be removed from around the outside of the building. It’s been quite exciting seeing the building skin revealed from behind the steel and boards.

    Inside lots of gib has been going up and finished. We’ve also been looking at new stock for the upcoming season, taking the opportunity to top up departments that we’ve had to reduce back due to lack of space. Will be great to see the store filled up again and we can’t wait to show off the new stock in our new surroundings.

    Thanks to the Mallinsons for sharing the third and fourth photos above too.

  • New windows going in (7/7/2013)

    The new windows are going in on the top floor now. This is pretty cool, because it means the building will be weather-tight soon and we can begin to complete the inside.

  • The roof is on (6/16/2013)

    It is such a relief to get the roof on, not just because with Winter here it’s great to have things water tight at last, but also because it’s such a milestone for us and the builders.

    Now we can see the internal walls in being gibbed up and rooms start to take shape.

  • Autumn work (4/27/2013)

    The long hot summer continued while the builders forged on with the re-build. Bushnell Builders crew are hard at work, making it happen in rain or shine.


  • First floor framing (3/12/2013)

    The steel framing for the first floor and the beginning of the roof is going in now. The plan is to look for tenants for the first floor and it’s great see the spaces beginning to form up there.

    It’s going to be pretty exciting to have tenants and other businesses working with us in the same building too. We’ve included a shot from the first floor so you can see what the view will look like for the lucky corner tenant.

  • We have a first floor (3/3/2013)

    Re-build progress is steaming along, and now we have the beginnings of a first floor and an enclosed space downstairs. It’s all starting to look like a building.


  • First view from the first floor (2/22/2013)

    With the first floor panels going in there was a chance to nip up and get the first view from the first floor today. Our Laura took these photos on her phone, along with an excellent panorama view of the bottom floor.

  • First floor panels get lifted in (2/19/2013)

    A large crane turned up today to lift in the first floor concrete panels. Enclosing the space below really started to make it feel like a building, and a real sense of the size of the building started to appear.

    Lifting in the first floor panels
    Lifting in the first floor panels
    First floor panels in place
    First floor panels in place
  • Blackwells buys shares in steel (12/17/2012)
    Incredible amount of steel in the new foundations
    Incredible amount of steel in the new foundations

    It feels like we’ve taken out shares in the steel industry at the moment. An incredible amount of steel is going into the new foundations, as the builders prepare for concrete footings to be poured.

    This is all good of course, and thoroughly re-assuring. The new building will be so strong that the only at-risk items will soon be the stock and staff.

    Just in case we ever do get another shake we’re thinking of blue-tacking everything down in the shop and staff will wear velcro on their shoes to hold them in place!

    We’re adding more images to our Photo Gallery, so you can see progress.

  • The rebuild begins! (12/8/2012)

    Well, at last we can celebrate the beginning of the rebuild. It is happening.

    Some months back a digger turned up and started drilling test pile holes. These had to be driven very deep to ensure we will have the stability we need for a new two-storey building in the site.

    But that didn’t feel like real building had started until the boys from Bushnell Builders started in the foundations a few weeks ago.

    The first thing they had to do was put a false wall in side the existing past of the shop so that the temporary outside wall could be removed. We had to shuffle things around inside the store, which reduced our space a little, but our staff and customers seem to have coped well with the ever-changing interior of our shop.

    The next steps were drilling in the 6m screw piles required to meet code and provide a secure foundation for the building.

    After that footings were dug, reinforcing steel added, and the concrete foundations poured for the three shear walls. Now THAT feels like a building has started.

    We’ll post updated photos as the work continues, but better still, come down and see us. We’re still open and we’d love to see you. And you can have sneaky peek through the hoardings to see what the builders are up to.

    You can peek through the hoardings whenever you like



  • Press Release: Opening date set for iconic store (12/3/2012)

    Opening date set for iconic Blackwell’s Department Store

    At last there’s an answer to Kaiapoi’s most-asked question: “When will Blackwell’s be rebuilt?” The new, contemporary version of the town’s iconic department store will be open by September 2013.

    The building’s 68 screw piles were drilled in this week, with partial demolition of existing buildings on the site completed earlier. The site is now ready for shear end wall foundations to be laid.

    Blackwell’s, established in 1871, is one of the oldest department stores in New Zealand. The new store will open on or near Blackwell’s 141st anniversary.

    The 7.1 quake on 4 September 2010 quake damaged the front, 1921 part of the building, including its iconic logo. This part was demolished the same day for safety reasons. The business operated from three separate locations until it could return to what remained of the building at the corner of Raven Quay and Williams St. Although trade has been affected, all Blackwell’s staff have retained their jobs since the 2010 quake.

    Chartered Professional Engineer Warren Lewis from Christchurch firm Lewis & Barrow says the building has been designed for all up-to-the-minute design codes, Government guidelines, and the Structural Engineering Society New Zealand design guidelines. The new building will provide extra strength to the existing single-storey buildings so they could be brought up to 100% of the strength of a new building.

    Warren Lewis says the building has been detailed to seismic loads that are 3x present design loads, to resist an earthquake with a return period in excess of 6000 years.

    Brothers Michael and Andrew Blackwell, the fifth generation of Blackwells to manage the store, worked with Christchurch architects Wilkie + Bruce on a design retaining the grace of the old building, but with a contemporary feel. There will be a larger floor area and a café. The first floor will provide much-needed commercial floor space, with excellent Kaiapoi River views.

    Christchurch-based Bushnell Builders has been chosen for the build.

    Michael says over the past two years he’s been approached almost daily by people wanting to know when the rebuild will begin. There have been many complex geotechnical, engineering, consent and insurance issues to work through.

    “It’s very exciting now to see rapid progress day by day, and to finally begin our store’s redevelopment two long years after September 2010.

    “It’s a time we would like to forget, but it’s the lessons learnt from this time that make us more resilient.”

    Andrew says: “This will be a nice, modern building that will still look contemporary in 50 years. We want it to have a unique feeling and atmosphere, and provide some really memorable shopping.

    “Since the concept plans were made public a year ago, the café idea in particular has gained huge public support and interest.”

    Michael stresses it will be business as usual at Blackwell’s this Christmas during the rebuild.

    “We will continue to trade from the unaffected part of the store, offering a good range of products from all our departments, so please come down to see the building work in progress, and our great range in-store at the same time.”

    For more information, please phone:

    Michael Blackwell                                             Warren Lewis                        Alun Wilkie

    029 770 2669  / 03 327 8029                                027 432 4599                          021 379 779

  • Something’s happening… (11/4/2012)

    Hoardings up around the Blackwell’s site – what could this mean?

  • A digger at last! (9/13/2012)

    A large digger turned up on our site yesterday, to start drilling pile holes. Really great to have a start made.

  • New ground floor plan (6/20/2012)

    Planning work for the new store is going well, and working with our  architects Wilkie + Bruce we’ve submitted plans for building consent with the council now.

    Today we’d like to share the floor plan for the proposed new ground floor of Blackwell’s, showing the new areas and the potential tenancy areas. Click the image to see it a little larger.

    Blackwells Dept Store - proposed ground floor

    As you can see the retail area will be slightly different compared to the old store, with the inclusion of areas for two tenants on the ground floor. We’re hoping one of them will be a café, but that is yet to be confirmed. We feel the re-organisation of the space will still give us ample capacity for retailing, along with better located staff and office areas. Huge thanks to architects Wilkie + Bruce for providing the images you see here.


  • New store designs revealed (5/23/2012)

    Blackwell’s are pleased to release the illustrations of our proposed new building. There will be exciting new features, including office space above the store and a space on the corner for a café.

    Designed by architects Wilkie + Bruce, and supported by Lumleys, the new building is planned to be stated two years from the day of the first earthquake in September 2010.

    Blackwells proposed store - Eastern-elevation
    Blackwell’s proposed store – Eastern-elevation

    Above is a view of the proposed building design, as conceived by architects, Wilkie + Bruce. The front will retain the Blackwell’s logo on the front corner, as the old store used to.

    Below is a view of the North end of the building, where we hope to have space for a café.

    Blackwell's proposed new building cafe view
    Blackwell’s proposed new building showing the corner café

    Much of this is still a work-in-progress, and we will post updates on this website as news becomes available.

  • Blackwell’s will rebuild on its well-known site (9/19/2011)

    Geoff Mein from the local newspaper popped by recently to hear what we have been up to. He spent some time with co-directors Andrew and Mike Blackwell, and wrote a great story about us in the Northern Outlook of 3 September 2011.

    Blackwell brothers looking over new plansGeoff was keen to know how we were going with plans to re-build the front of the store. It’s taken us a while to sort things out with the insurance, and our architects are drawing up plans for a new front structure now. The photo at right shows Mike and Andrew looking over the draft architectural plans.

    Andrew told him how we don’t have issues with the land under the building. “The plan is to build another distinctive building on that corner,” says Andrew, “but there is no desire to reproduce the old building.”

    Andrew is very clear they want to look forward, not back. “After the first quake we had the choice of being very pessimistic about the world.” There were certainly days when it felt easier to give up, but the Blackwells and their staff are determined people.

    Community support for Blackwell’s has been fantastic. “Right from the start Kaiapoi people wanted to support not only us, but the whole local business community,” says Andrew.

    All our efforts now are going into planning for the re-build and we hope to publish some draft designs very soon.

    Thanks to Geoff Mein and the people at the Northern Outlook for permission to use the photo above, and quote from the article.

  • We’re moving out of the temporary store (8/20/2011)

    We’re moving out of the temporary store at 154 Williams Street, on the round-about opposite McDonald’s. We’re having an end-of-lease sale in the temporary store, all stock must go by the end of August. Come and see us and grab a bargain.

    From September everything will be back in one location, in the remains of our original building on the corner of Raven Quay and Williams Street.

  • We’re looking to the future (4/2/2011)

    Demolition of the old part of the Blackwell’s building is over, and we’re up and running again in the remaining part of the Raven Quay store and our temporary location on the round-about opposite McDonald’s.

    We’re working on plans with Wilkie & Bruce Architects for an exciting new two-storey building to go on the Raven Quay corner site, that the town and the family can be proud of.

    We’ll update this site with more news soon.


    The image above shows the Blackwell’s store before the old part of the building was demolished in February. This image is from the excellent Koordinates Christchurch Post earthquake website of aerial shots taken 24 Feb 2011. It is reproduced under the Creative Commons licence, provided by Koordinates. Please do not reproduce this image without following the licence terms.

  • Demolition over (3/21/2011)

    We’ve now finished removing the old part of the building and have made the remaining building water-tight while it waits for the re-build to begin.

    Made water tight for re-build
    Made water tight for re-build
  • The old part of the building has gone (3/3/2011)

    Work to remove the old part of the building continues…

    The digger at work
    The digger at work
  • Blackwell’s Old Store Demolition February 2011 (2/28/2011)

  • Effects of the February quake (2/28/2011)

    The February earthquake damaged the old part of the building beyond repair and now has to come down.


    Demolition of Blackwells Store, Kaiapoi
    Demolition of Blackwell's Store, Kaiapoi

    We are now working with Alun Wilkie of Wilkie & Bruce Architects to develop a new building front and hope to be able to reveal our plans to the community soon. Watch this space, as they say.

  • The earthquake won’t stop us (9/30/2010)

    At 4.35am on 4 September 2010 a force 7.1 earthquake struck the Canterbury area of the South Island, New Zealand. The town of Kaiapoi was badly hit by the quake and the iconic Blackwell’s Department Store building on the corner of Williams Street and Raven Quay was a victim. The front of the building was badly damaged and the store had to be abandonded until it’s fate could be decided.

    The Blackwell family has owned and run the store since 1871 and we are determined not to let this be the end. We have opened a temporary store on Williams Street, a short distance south of the old store, as well as a furnishing and carpet showroom on Ohoka Road. It’s business as usual, and the family and staff would love to see you visit and support them through this challenging period in the store’s on-going history.

  • Blackwell’s Department Store Facade Demolition (9/4/2010)