How not to repair a Heritage building in the Christchurch CBD …. part 160

Well, here we are nearly 4.5 years down the track from the February 2011 earthquake and still waiting.  The city is in the depths of winter and despair. The building owners are fed up and walking away,  CERA is pulling out although it is not admitted out loud…. This has been obvious for the last year or so. The so-called anchor projects in the city are increasingly looking like boat anchors, they are either dead or dying ducks.  The costs of the Convention Centre is blowing out of the water,   – all very depressing if one cared.  Which most of us building owners no longer do.  They will do what they want….. Bunch of idiots.

What New in High Street:

  • No official information on the Innovation Precinct lane ways plans,  so our toilet block rebuild is still stalled.  I want it in writing please.
  • I am increasingly disturbed by the building of the Vodafone building in the Innovation precinct on the corner of High and Tuam Streets.  As the steel frame goes up it is obvious to me that the height of the building will have a shadow effect on Lower High Street.  Already a street at a disadvantage due to its east facing orientation, shadowed by the unpleasant, under used and ill positioned, 3 storey CPIT Jazz School building.  Why would you allow the further shadowing of one of the last heritage block left in the city?  I just do not get it. The lack of planning design control is evident to all.  CERA/CCDU and Urban planning legislation has failed the city in this respect. The Government/MBIE has fixated on the Building Consents mechanism but not the actual details of urban design.
  • Incidentally, If they dig up the St Asaph Street intersection again I will take shares in the roading company. We are well and truly sick of them. The traffic jams are driving us to drink or in my case chocolate!
  •  On the corner they have finished scaffolding and plying the windows of the Mckenzie and Willis building and some heavy-duty “nibbling” equipment has arrived in the back car park.  I await with interest to see what happens. Other than that. Nothing.  A repeat of the last 4.5 years. No progress.
The diggers are going in!

The diggers are going in!

I have been somewhat irritated by the fan fare regarding the reopening of the old Twisted Hop site. Link here:  and here:  “The building lease for three years and fit out was funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment at a cost of $900,000 while the Canterbury Development Corporation, the region’s economic development agency, will run the hub”.

Just for the record.  This is one of many buildings that CERA wanted to pull down.  It was saved by the wife of the previous building owner, Informing CERA in no uncertain terms, I am told, that if they pulled it down “she would see them is court”.  Well done Anna.  Of course, this was a case of “this building is very dangerous”.  CERA was very good at that.  Pity really, as in many cases this was not true.

Questions with no answers:

  1.  How can the government after 4.5 years fix a building with our tax payers money, to house “start-up company’s” rent free, when the very same government tasked with the recovery of Christchurch demanded that all the “old Dungers” be pulled down as they were “very dangerous”?
  2. Why was no assistance given to the existing building owners with engineering and stabilization issues to help facilitate the repairs of the damaged buildings immediately after the earthquakes? I am not just referring to the Twisted Hop Building but all the damaged buildings in Christchurch.
  3. How can the government offer another building owner the funds to repair the Twisted Hop building and not the original building owner who was forced to sell as a result of the failure of their insurance company, after 4.5 years?

There was an interesting article by Roger Sutton recently, “Roger Sutton finds heritage protected in quake-hit Italian city of L’Aquila”

“The fire service in Italy produces a massive 200-page handbook on how to prop and protect damaged historic buildings. Saving their historic buildings is embedded deep in the Italian culture especially in cities like L’Aquila where the old buildings are the major tourist attraction”.  Link here:

OMG Obama is not wearing his fluro.....vest!  Remember that

OMG Obama is not wearing his fluro…..vest! Remember that “these Dungers” are very dangerous.

If the propping had been done as per L’Aquila,  there would have been time to come up with a plan to repair buildings, like they have done at the Twisted Hop and what we have done at 137-139 High Street.   It did not have to be every building but many could have been saved.  These buildings could have been repaired at a later stage and we would have not ended up with the scorched earth syndrome that we have now.

Question: We would like to see an analysis of the cost of the 125 years of infrastructure that has been thrown into the refuse centre. What is the true cost, let alone the environmental issues? This will need a proper study by an academic department of a University!

There are very many unanswered questions!

We would also like to see MBIE come down to lower High Street, aid us with tax payer money to facilitate our recovery with free rent and assistance to navigate the bureaucracy that they have created.  Yeah right, a Tui moment I am afraid. 

Incidentally, if one gets a close look at the inside of the Twisted Hop building you will note that it has no gib lining on the ceiling.  That’s weird….. how come they got consent for that????

Moving on down the street….

A very thoughtful comment by Johnny Moore this morning, 27 June 2015, in the Press.  He has said what most of us are thinking and have not bothered saying aloud, mostly because we no longer care what they do and they do not listen anyway.  The sooner they bugger off the better… Link Here:   He is referring to the demolition of the BRAND NEW!  Westende Building in Manchester Street,  which most of us cannot see the point in demolishing. Especially for a roadway. The local view is that a standing building is worth its weight in gold, given the CERA led destruction that has occurred.  The demolition is “quietly” occurring now. Link Here:

The most costly environmental building in New Zealand. Life span 2 years.

The most costly environmental building in New Zealand. Life span 2 years.

Westend Building, Brownlees

Westend Building, Brownlees “poster child” of the rebuild of CHCH. Demolished by the CCDU for a 6 lane roadway.

If one walks through the central city, you will see building after building, empty section after empty section,  block after block, that has had no work done or where no progress has been made for nearly 5 years. One must ask why?  It appears the CCDU/CERA has pulled out completely. They have literally bolted from the city with the job not even started. The problem is that they have not finished a single project that I can think of.

As I was thinking about this blog there was an article in the press by Garth Falconer. Called “A Letter to New Zealand”.  It is an excellent article and articulates what I can not put into words. His comments about the rebuild resonate for me:

“Privately many locals respond to my prods with exclamations of dashed expectations, exhaustion, continual frustrations and a long-shot hope that Cera will someday dismantle itself and leave town. There are good people in both council and Cera, but apparently there is no real design leadership at the fore of this rebuild. Christchurch needs an inspiring, integrating, resourceful and challenging focus on design. It should not just replace but be better than before”. 

“The telltale signs of design failure are also evident in the larger urban form of the city. Outwards the once-tight Christchurch has just become more dispersed, more spatially weak and more reliant on the motor car. New offices have been constructed on edge of the central city, in Addington and Riccarton. They are big and cheap (about $350sqm in rent) and you can park your car in front”.

An excellent well thought out article that really nails the issues.  What I really liked about it was the fact that it was an “out of Towner” articulating what we Christchurch peeps have known for 4.5 years.  New Zealand be very afraid this could be your city!  Link here:

From the depressing to the more humourous:

-The musical jingles keep coming, here is the one from SCIRT. A “little reminder” from SCRIT that “we are half way there”. At the moment it does not feel like it.  The whole central city is a nightmare of road cones and road works, delays and diversions, 4.5 years later….. it is almost incomprehensible. Link Here:

-This is heartening news: It is nice to see a building saved. It is now on site next to the Trinity Church in Manchester Street.  Congratulations to both Christchurch Heritage chairwoman Anna Crighton and former owner property developer Antony Gough for saving this iconic building.

Shand’s Emporium touches down on Manchester St, Christchurch  Link Here:

ho humm…..  A winter of discontent I am afraid…..

Hot off the press:  An extension has been granted for the rental assistance for those of us out of our houses:  “Budget 2015 provides an additional $7.7 million in funding which will see this assistance extended until December 2017, for those residents in Canterbury who are still waiting to get their properties assessed and repaired.

Thank heavens for small mercies, this has been worrying me for a while. This means I can pay the rent….. As for various reasons it looks like my house will take another year to be rebuilt.  sigh….. Link Here:


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