How not to repair a Heritage building in the Christchurch CBD part 141

  • Locked out of undamaged factory for 1118 days – (since Feb 2011)
  • Do we still own our building????    Now 591 days since designated “South frame, Innovation Precinct” – only 1236 days to go before we get told if we are going to be compulsorily acquired by the  CCDU. There is now the possibility that this designation will be lifted in July!
  • Innovation precinct Plan Due:  September,  October,  November, December 2013, January, February?   March ?? Nope its to be July 2014!!!!
  • High Street Building amendment details at council. One further request for an electronic copy of the 2011 amendment which is probably still siting on a desk in the old, to be demolished, CCC building in town.  I can not argue with that, we had similar problems retrieving and rescuing our paper work as well.  The cabinet with all my building consent paper work fell over, got wet, had to be dried out, re sorted and filed.  I think I have it all, more or less. Out of respect for Jim at Building consents I will halt the day count for now.
  • Building Consent for my new house 94 working days so far.- rumours are its close. Humm… too many RFI’s?  (Requests for further Information)  Hope the Building company knows what they are doing with the foundations!

The fun stuff first! Have a look at this link, John McCrone has a good handle on building owners views. Link here:   http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/9805314/Christchurch-rebuild-A-city-stalled

Well worth a read. It says it all really. The cartoon accompanying the article was particularly poignant. It is apparently a Mural on a wall in Madras street.

Roger, Issacs and Gerry!

Roger, Issac and Gerry!

What have we been up to this week?

Another CERA/CCDU week from hell!

This week all the building owners in the innovation precinct have called in to get an “an update on progress within the Innovation Precinct. In particular, we would like to discuss the proposed planning changes that are about to go out for public comment and also share with you the proposed layout of the public realm.”

Early reports I had were that it was pretty standard.

  • They want mixed use.
  • Lane ways, interestingly most are pre-existing.
  • multiple storey buildings, a mix of office and residential.
  • One lane way appears to run behind our building.
  • MBIE wants “Innovation tenants”. Even if they have to subsidize the rentals by taking leases on buildings.  (Long term this is not sustainable)

(Incidentally, those in the know, tell me that the EPIC building charges $180 approx per square metre.  Well below market rental. EPIC building is built on land the previous council purchased from bankrupt developer David Henderson.   They have thrown up a corrugated iron “shed” on it and the “Innovation tenants” get cheap rental.  They have a 5 year time limit on the use of the land. My guess is that a new use will have to be found for the building as the Innovation plan is on “shaky ground”, literally!)

Anyway:  I somewhat reluctantly agreed to go to the Innovation precinct “one on one” meeting.
There were 6 of them and 2 of us.  4 x CCDU, 1 x MBIE, 1 x Communications Advisor.

As per usual, our meetings with CCDU are never a great success, this one was as “disappointing.”

I fail to see what the point of this meeting was. I did receive an agenda but I did not receive the requested plan of the new precinct. (I was stonewalled on that front.)

As far as I can work out, the reason we did not get a plan was that they were frantically changing it from what was presented to a group of land owners a week ago.

The revised plan they showed us was slightly different to what others had seen. Guess what! They have changed the position of the lane way at the back of our building. Status quo for us I am afraid. A sudden “deviation” of the lane way has occurred.  The plan we were handed was so warm as to be “hot of the press.”

One wonders about the legitimacy of this swapping around of plans.   Very unusual to say the least. (I am afraid it comes down to the what side of the tracks you were born on.)

I find the handing out of varying plans to different building owners extremely distrubing, bordering on dishonest.  The first plan I was told about was a better outcome for all the Duncan’s Building owners, rather than variation number 2 which leaves 4 owners still isolated from the new lane way.  The deviation also adds a element of risk to the walk way as it does not offer clear visibility of the whole lane way.

This alteration to benefit one land owner is not a good outcome and was certainly the cause of our ire at the meeting we had with them.  Mind you at the moment the point of the laneways is a bit “confused”  we have plenty of empty land around us, actually we could start a dairy farm.

Some where along the way, the lane way behind us has also “shrunk in the wash” from about 6-7 metres to 4 metres. Self interests put aside, decent back access to the Duncan’s buildings would have a number of benefits.

  • Allow rental splits ie the ground floors could be divided into multiple tenancies with both front and back access. ie better usage of the buildings. It would allow for the rejuvenation of the backs of these buildings. (For example In our case:  we are allowed under the new plan only 150sqm of retail area, we have approximately 230sqm of ground floor area,  ie If we try to divide our ground floor into 2 areas, one tenant is going to have to walk through/past another tenants area. That is never successful.
  • It would have allowed better access to the 2nd storey of the buildings.  In most of the Duncans buildings the central area of the buildings are taken up with stairways that are not always easily accessible, and take up large areas.  2nd floor tenants have to walk into other tenancies to access the stair ways.  Never a success.
  •  It would also allow for “cafe style courtyards” out of the easterly wind.
  •  It would allow all service vehicles to be removed from High Street, thus making a much nicer street area.
  •  It would make the current 1m wide lane way that the Duncan’s buildings have, safer and more usable. Currently it is small, dingy and ill-used. (Mostly as a toilet….etc)
  • Tied in with a new traffic plan for the street. it would be a win win for all the building owners and street users.

But:
unbelievably, they do not have a complimentary plan for the traffic management/design in High Street, that’s a different department folks.  You must be kidding, I thought the point of the lane ways was to open out the backs of the buildings, thus getting better use of the buildings and creating new activity based on the rear of the buildings, as well as to benefit the streetscape by taking out the servicing vehicles, and create a cozy feeling about the place.  My bad!

Seems to me the purpose of the lanes at the moment is to rapidly transport a person from A to B, missing out the bit in the middle!  Coffee in the courtyard.   nah, someone has not got the point of the lane ways at all.!

Foolish me.  No road plan being done in conjunction with the lane ways?  They are missing a golden opportunity.  I am incredulous! I am afraid I was rendered speechless. What is also becoming increasingly clear to me is that the CCDU planners are working in isolation. (There is no liaison with the City Council planners.  We know that here in the city they have had their differences but for heaven’s sake, how hard is it for these 2 departments to get their heads together.  I will cheerfully bang both their heads together and offer to do the job for them.

I asked them if traffic and parking was to be allowed in the street, I did not get an answer.  Hello? any one home?   No one knew!  I am deeply suspicious that they are going to go down the road of a pedestrian walkway. (they really need to think this through,  if New Regent street retailers cannot, and are not surviving  and they have 19 open shops, 5 un-restored 11 vacant, (tenancy turnover has been over 50%.)

1 or 2  buildings open in our end of High Street, is not going to be very successful as a walkway.  It is setting us up to fail. We know that we are being set up to fail and that unfortunately it is inevitable. Sad indictment of their processes.

And so we proceeded:

It was patently obvious to me that we were a “nuisance” and “unreasonable” and to be got rid of as quickly as possible. Our intransigent and intractable views of their performance was annoying to them.

I am increasingly forming the view that a “VIP system” is operating at the CCDU/CERA.   The treatment of the small land owners has been appalling, where as, it looks like the “VIP’s” ie large developers and landowners in the city are being treated in a different manner to us. CERA/CCDU do not want to deal with the myriad of issues that the small land owners have. Certainly not a small land owners down the lower end of High Street. I understand their reluctance, but it leaves a very poor taste in our mouths.

Interesting that the VIP issue has raised its ugly head at EQC as well.   We all have heard “rumours” of the differing treatment that has been received by certain sectors of the community, it has been an open secret in the city for 3 years.  A pity that the residents of the east side, the hill suburbs and the elderly have not been party to this executive treatment. Link here.  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch-earthquake-2011/9821628/EQC-flagged-prominent-claimants-as-sensitive

Due to the “difficult” nature of this meeting, many of the questions we wished to ask were left unanswered:

Questions I have no answers to:

  1. Who is going to build the buildings that you want behind the Duncans buildings.?
  2. What actually do you see this lane way achieving?
  3. Who do you envisage using these lane ways?  ie Where do these lanes ways go to and come from ie the point of them?
  4. Are you going to pull the Duncan’s Buildings down?
  5. When is the impasse at McKenzie and Willis going to be resolved?
  6. Is the street going to remain open to vehicle traffic?
  7. Where is the traffic plan?
  8. Are there going to be parking meters in the street?
  9. When are you going to clear the rubble from the street?
  10. When is CERA going to come out and say Aloud and in public that these buildings will be retained, restored and are up for sale.
  11. WILL WE BE DEMOED? CERA has yet told us whether we are going to be demoed or not.  This is downright unbelievable.
  12. The lane way is 4 m, does this include the 1m that we already have a right of way over ie the lane way will be 5 m wide??
  13. What about the long-term parking issues – (from poly students)  this has been  problem for the last 15 years
  14. What about a slow zone…
  15. What about removing the blanked out/painted curtained windows of poly tech building. What about putting retail in the bottom of the poly building. as per original promise in 1990’s
  16. what about using the polytechnic Jazz school building as “incubator hub” for the fashion school ie sales of their products, also shift the poly restaurant to the street, and use the public as “guinea pigs” ie  tap into that innovation side.
  17. What about trying to frame the old post office building in the square from the end of High Street ie a clear unhindered un obstructed view. remove visual obstacles!  tall trees and lolly pops do not help that view.( Athfield suggestion in 1990’s)
  18. What about having a good look at the trees in the street, they are tall, obscuring frontage of Duncans buildings, as well as creating a mess and shading us and the lamp posts. (We have discussed this issue with a botanist and would suggest Coprosma Virescens (tiny leaves, 3-4 m high, native. light lacy look.  Local.)  Coprosma wallii ,  or pseudopanax ferox- fierce lancewood , Olearia lectori, olearia fragmatissima. (deciduous)  Why do we have to persist with old-fashioned English pin oaks, they are totally inappropriate.  ( apologies if any of the names are spelt wrong)
  19. What about the silly one way street plans and trapping a heritage block between 3 one way streets?  A 1960’s failed solution.

Just to list a few!

They fail to see that fixed rules/regulations or EDICTS as Joe calls them, will not make the innovation plan work. The area needs to develop organically.  Get some of the buildings up and running and see what happens.  The methods that you have employed over the last 3 years have not been successful, try something different.

ho humm just another day at the office.

Maybe that is their problem, they have no skin in the game, they just sit on their nice office chairs in their nice office and have lost sight of the true issues. While we as small building owners remain locked out of an undamaged factory for 3 years and slowly and publicly, in our case, bleed to death.  maybe that’s the aim???  We are being set up to fail!

Any good points come out of the meeting?? Summary of the useful bits:

  • designation may be lifted around July.
  • We have existing use rights (that must have stuck in their craw, light industrial in a mixed use retail/cafes/office and accommodation zone. Bugger ! I am surprised that they have not taken us out of the picture as well. Those existing user rights are a pain eh!)
  • Retail area, must not be over 150sqm
  • They are planning to do some remedial work on the Duncan’s buildings that they own, frontages only, than they will on sell. They own OVER HALF of the Duncan’s Buildings, (I suspect that they may have picked up a few extras since I last counted.)
  • There was a brief mention of the fact that EPIC Innovation tenants may pull out. That is a bit of a clanger!
  • I see that we have a revised tram plan, we will now have  a terminus in the middle of the lower High Street block.  ie it stops in the middle of the block and then goes back the other way.
  • There was mention of the heights of the new, to be built buildings behind the Duncans Block. (Not sure who will build them, that is unclear!)  The height of the neighbouring buildings is going to be critical, because we get minimal morning sun and very little afternoon sun on the lower floor.    We would have liked to retain or enhance  our sunshine hours (our morning sun is partially blocked by the Jazz school). Our feeling is that the 17m height restriction behind us, is still going to shadow the Duncans buildings.  I would personally like to see a more gradual height change behind the buildings.  These buildings are cold.

To cut a long torrid story short!

This is consultation for the sake of being seen to consult, there was no intention of listening to our views and even less of considering the merit of the ideas.  This was a meeting in the name of protocol only. I should have gone with my gut feeling and walked out after 10 minutes.

We did suggest that they should confiscate our neighbours, who have not fulfilled their section 38’s make safes. (Which has caused us to be still lumbered with a section 45, ie not allowed to open due to unsafe surroundings.)
They had the gall to ask how we would feel if we were confiscated.  ha ha, mass hysteria on my part!  We have had that threat hanging over our heads for 18 months, do you really think we care that much?  We will happily go, along with every other building owner left in the city.   They have taken buildings all over the city for a lot dafter reasons than ours.

  • We also suggested we wanted compensation because CERA is so toothless it can’t even get section 38’s done on our neighbours and its stopping us from opening. ha ha I am not checking my bank account for the cheque.
  • that the micro managing of the recovery was unnecessary and hindering progress.
  • the city was a doughnut and it was their fault.
  • We told them we are going to re-ply our frontage for security reasons.
  • We also told them that we had done our bit and now it was ‘CERA’s turn to cooperate. and sort out the neighbours.

And to finish it all off nicely we added that:

  •  it would be 3 years before these buildings are fixed.  (Denial of course.)  But we are not far from being correct. The frontages, which they seem committed to strengthening are the easy bit. The inside of every building is going to need to be gutted, the bricks needs to re-pointed.  The walls need to be strengthened, the floor/ceiling joists need tying to the walls, they need ring beams, they will need complete refurbishing, re-wiring, new sewers and water.  The cost per unit will be in excess of $300,000 plus fit out per unit.

On that note we left.  They will not be calling us back for cups of tea and cookies and we are off the “Chrissie card” list, again.

Our thanks to Gerald for acknowledging our departure.

They would not let us take a copy of the plan. (2  x a3 pages one designating the height restrictions to be put in place and one giving details of the lane ways. We were surprised that there were only 2 copies available and that we were not given a copy, digital era????? May be they need a new printer lol!  It’s not that hard to hand out copies to the affected land owners.

So I have drafted a rough plan below. I have drafted this from memory only.  Errors and omissions accepted. I fail to comprehend the secrecy, every building owner affected has seen and commented on this plan, except us of course.  I have shown only the Innovation Precinct.planrough draft from memory

I thought they wanted our views as land owners, but No, we are to put our views in writing when it gets publicly notified.  I think this meeting was all about “form and being seen to consult”. We do not get a say in this lane way, and we are a stakeholder in the block.  And I might add one that has been here since 1968.

oh  And are we having fun yet?

On the subject of CERA!

email  sent to CERA demolitions Wednesday 12 March 2014 12.30

Dear >>>>>,

Regarding the phone call I received a few days ago in relation to the section 45  which you are leaving in place on our building at 139 High Street, although you have accepted our DEE.

As our neighbours at 141 High Street have not fulfilled their obligations under their section 38 make safe notice, I suggest that CERA proceeds with the make safe themselves and removes BBS Australia Ltd’s half of the pediment at 141 High Street and charges said building owner the cost of doing so.

We will willingly and promptly remove our half of this pediment. (Which may I point out we have tied back on both sides at our expense.)

All attempts by us to communicate with the building owners in regard to their buildings has been unsuccessful. I suggest that you enforce your powers and act to honour your stated aim of assisting recovery.

Regarding the Spinks building at 135 High Street, I suggest that again CERA enforces the section 38 that is in place and either makes the building safe themselves or arranges the demolition or repair of the remaining structure –  Leaving the PARTY WALL INTACT.

The other option is, that you find an engineering solution for both Spinks and BBS Australia ltd  with containers, ply or propping.

We await your response.

Yours sincerely

Nicky Arts

To their credit I must say I got an almost instant reaction, much to my surprise.  They will let me know their answer,  “Next week”  I await with some interest to see the outcome of this.  As you can see I have offered to remove our half of the offending pediment.

139-141 High St Pediment

139-141 High St Pediment

As you will see from this photo, this will be an amazing engineering feat to achieve.  What fun!

Progress on the Building?

So what are we up to on the building.

  • “Sealing” the store-room walls so that I can re-arrange some shelving, to clean out the back of the building so we can begin repairs on the back wall.
  • sorting out a “solid plasterer” for the parapet, to try to solve the “Noah’s flood” we had last week. It was remarkably water tight given the shaking we have gone through and the amount of rain we had.
  • We have been up on the roof replacing some nails and sealing some iron that looks like it could be troublesome.
  • sealing around the floor and windows of the upstairs office to stop “hurricane like winds” blowing through.
  • Getting some crack injection work done on a concrete archway, so that it remains water tight.
  • Still Waiting for Building consent amendment so that we can gib downstairs.

On the house front:

Lets start to talk about “Southern No Response” (AMI Insurance company rebranded as “Southern Response” but derisively called “Southern No Response” by every Cantabrian insured with them) and Arrow (Project Managers)

I have not reported on these companies much for the last 3 years, the gloves are off boys and girls, my patience has reached it limit.

-House destroyed  22 February 2011
-It has taken 3 years to get in rebuild queue.
-Moved out of house: 10 February 2014
-Progress in the last month:     Disconnected and removed heat pump
-Disconnected power.

That’s one months worth of accommodation allowance used up:  11 more to go.

(I have since threatened to move back into the house as conditions where we are, are “difficult” to say the least.  They immediately the next day removed the windows. Considering that we are living in a couple of tents in a warehouse, I don’t think that’s going to worry us much. )

One of my friends further down the street, in a week, has his house nearly down to the base plate.  Note: he is self managing the build, unfortunately I am stuck with ARROW.  This was an error of judgement on my part, I should have opted out with a cash settlement.

Arrow, humm a new acronym for “Arrow” may need to be found. (whats faster than a speeding arrow?   tortoise??  ” Lost…. Arrow”???  humm this will need some thought and a few brandy’s)

The house plan is stuck at building consents, I have serious reservations about the competence of the designers.  (incidentally they have lumbered me with a waste water pump, which pumps up to the street.   I did not previously require this. (All because they have lowered the new house.  This is going to be a long-term liability)  Poor design.!

imagejpeg_2_11

Maybe next week will be easier????

Apologies to all for any spelling errors, I am still with out a phone line, and the broadband is appalling

VODAFONE????????? Chorus???????? where are you??????

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