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People the key to a humming central city - James Bagrie Caffeine Laboratory Owner

Caffeine Laboratory owner James Bagrie says a tipping point is coming. It’s people that will change the city centre. It’s time to come back and explore town – find your place.

James Bagrie couldn’t imagine running a business anywhere other than the city centre.

The owner of Caffeine Laboratory said Christchurch is coming back to life. He cherishes being part of a reinvigorated city.

“I grew up in Ohoka but went to high school in town. Even from a young age I was attracted to central cities,” Bagrie said.

The coffee stalwart has been slinging black gold to office workers for yonks, opening Caffeine Laboratory in Shades Arcade near Cashel Mall more than a decade ago.

He reopened the café at their now-synonymous New Regent St spot in 2014, regularly touted as one of the best coffee spots in town. Bagrie said the central city has always been the place to be.

Going out for dinner there are great options all over the city. Places to go out for drinks are just as good as anywhere else in the country, and all within this beautiful green city centre"

James Bagrie - Caffeine Laboratory

“Going out for dinner there are great options all over the city. Places to go out for drinks are just as good as anywhere else in the country, and all within this beautiful green city centre,” he said.

Asked what might be holding the city back, Bagrie said there was a simple answer – people.

“They are coming, which is awesome. Office workers are coming back into town which is great for us, and we’re seeing an increase in tourists which is good,” he said.

“Having the hotels open again has brought about a sense of confidence in the central city.”

It’s a liveable city, and people are beginning to realise that more and more. Recently the kids came into town to ride their bikes at Rauora Park and it was pumping, so many people. We chilled there, bikes, scooters, basketball, awesome"

James Bagrie - Caffeine Laboratory

Residential developments like One Central and Atlas Quarter meant more “central city residents”, a key aspect in any successful urban hub.

But what makes Christchurch special? What is its point of difference?

“It’s a liveable city, and people are beginning to realise that more and more. Recently the kids came into town to ride their bikes at Rauora Park and it was pumping, so many people. We chilled there, bikes, scooters, basketball, awesome.

He said Te Pae Convention Centre would be a game-changer for central city businesses, expected to bring an influx of people in the off-season.

“We just need more people, that’s really it.”

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