How not to repair a heritage building in the Christchurch CBD

So whats new in High Street?

High Street has just had a tidy up. This was desperately needed, it looked like a bomb site.
CERA finally consented to the removal of the rubble from the street and someone told me a tree trim!  It happened on Thursday and Friday.  The difference is amazing.  I believe they removed 4 tons of rubbish. The City Council staff did an amazing job and worked like hell to get it done before the rain came.

It went from a bomb site:

Debris everywhere plus 4 years of acorns and leaves!

Debris everywhere plus 4 years of acorns and leaves!

To a tidy version of Little Detroit!



There has been some movement on the Mckenzie and Willis site. They began scaffolding it a few days ago.  They will scaffold the front, then drop some big supporting columns behind the frontage and the back of the building will be removed.  Yeah ha!  Progress.  Once this is done the burnt out Billen’s building can be removed.

The scaffold goes up on the Mckenzie and Willis site.

The scaffold goes up on the Mckenzie and Willis site.

The Back of McKenzie and Willis and Billens building. This will be removed once the frontage is stable.

The Back of McKenzie and Willis and Billens building. This will be removed once the frontage is stable.

I see that the “For lease” signs have gone up.  Finding tenants will be the tricky bit. There is an oversupply of office space in the city and the retailers are refusing to come back until some certainty is given over car parking and progress on the anchor projects.  I suspect that is “boat anchor”, most of these projects are dead ducks and white elephants.

For lease

For lease

There are numerous rumours buzzing around about the fate of the Street.  The most plausible:  is the sale of the 7 units that CERA own to a developer who will restore. I have heard that a number of meetings have taken place along these lines.  I am not privy to the details lol!  I have also heard some whispers of a private sale being contemplated between 2 building owners.  (Not me before any one gets any fancy ideas, I have got enough problems without taking on any more unreinforced masonry buildings!)

I have seen plans for the rebuild of one of the Duncans units that was seriously trashed in February 2011 quakes,  I am delighted that they appear to keep to a similar style frontage. I have my fingers crossed that this comes to fruition.

I am still unable to find out the fate of the rear laneway behind my building.  This is holding up the rebuild of our toilet block.  Just how hard is it for CERA /CCDU to pick up the phone and tell me for once and for all what is going on???

Moving on from this on going frustration…..

We have done a bit of tiding up of our frontage.  We found a great plasterer, he would come to work with his 83 year old Dutch dad ( also a plasterer, who repaired Churchs in the Netherlands after WW11) and have long and lengthy discussions on how to repair some of the frilly bits on the frontage.  A dying skill I am afraid.  We have not done the top bit yet.  That is on hold until NZI/IAG – The Insurance company, gives me OUR INSURANCE MONEY!  The stalling and carry on with the insurance industry is amazing.  The system needs restructuring!



some plaster repairs in the bottom left hand corner. After.

some plaster repairs in the bottom left hand corner. After.

I see Johnny Moore, down the road at Brick Farm had a “wee moment” the other day, with the constant road works out side his building.  I had to laugh or was that cry?  as I sympathised. The constant road works gets “challenging” to say the least!

This is what the High St-Tuam St intersection looks like at the moment.  The only word for it is “sodding nightmare”. Road cone heaven!

I think health and safety have a road cone fetish,

I think health and safety have a road cone fetish.

I have been watching the comments made by Anthony Gough about the building consents department and his problems.

At the moment, all I can say about this is: that Building Consents are being incredibly helpful to us at the moment.  For which I am very grateful as we were really in a bad space over this issue. Due to a combination of issues that I will not bore you with.
Link here:

Re the red zoning of residential properties:

A very interesting blog discusses the red zoning.

I whole heartedly agree with this, basically our homes were red zoned for the political expediency of the national government, to save the Insurance industry money.  Sad…. and so unnecessary.  Many of us renting homes in the city are still suffering the pain of the loss of 7000 plus houses  as we pay silly rents and are still living in impossible conditions. This Link makes compelling reading:

“7. The decision to Red Zone many homes was a ‘political’ decision, and these decisions were not based on data. These decisions appear to have been made merely to save the insurance industry money from omitting the ground remediation costs.
Expelling victims from their homes ‘Red Zoning’ (many homes with very little structural damage) has been at great cost to the home owners both mentally, physically and financially.
Many of these residents, were paid the cost of their land (as per the 2007 valuations), but ‘repair value’ to their homes only, leaving vulnerable victims unable to afford to purchase new homes. Many of these people are elderly, now homeless and having to rent substandard dwellings.”

8. …” However the crown now has the ability to sell this confiscated land which will result in the New Zealand Government making a financial profit from forcibly removing earthquake victims from their homes”.

I notice in the press this morning some comments about the rebuild. Link here:  What I can not figure out is how anyone can maintain that the minister is doing a good job. You only need to look at High Street to see that. For the $1.4 they spent buying up the units in High Street they could have strengthened them and on sold for a profit.

Ho humm, another day in the shaky city.

ps  Due to some “difficulties” with my new house foundation, it looks like I will be squatting in the flat for another year…. as we go back to ground zero….  I am hoping like hell that the government does not can the rent subsidy CETAS offers, it is due to expire in October…. Then I will be in deep s……


6 thoughts on “How not to repair a heritage building in the Christchurch CBD

  1. Hello,
    Good news about the tidy up in High Street. My wife and I visited our son and family in Papanui during February and visited the CBD on numerous occasions. We went to New Brighton on the bus a couple of times. We were surprised at the state of the recovery after four years. Goodness knows how long it will take to revive Nepal.
    We wondered what happens to the rubble?!
    Best wishes from Richard and Sue

    • Hi Richard,
      my heart goes out to the people in Nepal. The problems they have make ours look totally insignificant. Good question about the rubbish. It was sorted into green waste, metal and hard fill. So it just didn’t end up in one land fill as “stuff”. Many problems in the city could have been sorted out with better quality management from CERA/CCDU. But I would say that!
      Thanks Nicky

  2. Meanwhile, in High Street, Rangiora, THREE new buildings are well underway, all of which will end up looking like the facades in High Street, Christchurch, including fancy bits of ornamentation, but with modern building techniques.

    You should pop out and take a look Nicky. It CAN be done, so why is nobody in the (former) CBD able to see beyond cheap glass facades?

    • I will go for a ride and have a look. I have not been your way for a while. I can not answer your question. I do know that the plans for the rebuild of the one unit in the street that I saw, was designed using modern materials. But basically I think it comes down to the designers and brief that they have been given. Also perhaps this is a result of Gerry’s silly “dungers” comment. Fear factor?? I have had people tell me they will never set foot in our building, regardless of the fact that it is now safer at 73% NBS than most concrete buildings in the city. I personally like the look of the old stuff. And it looks like this area will be one of the few in the city to retain that look. We can thank a few very persistent building owners for this, who fought CERA as best they could. The irony is that Roland Logan’s- Ng building is still in danger of being demolished for the daft stadium white elephant. So they are still trashing stuff! When will they learn???
      regards Nicky

      • The interesting thing about the great work being done by the owners in Rangiora is that their work is getting absolutely ZERO media attention from The Press. Go figure!

      • True. Especially seeing that it is an area rocketing head. The good bit about it all is they are out of CERA control as well! As we endlessly repeat in the vain hope that someone will listen, “the areas out of CERA control progressed much better than the area inside the red zone fence”. Lesson 101 for the future one would hope. Thanks for the links!

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