How not to Repair a Heritage Building in The Christchurch CBD…part 187

Marketing the CBD.

I note with considerable surprise that there is No Marketing Plan to encourage businesses and customers back to the Christchurch CBD.  I consider that creating a functioning CBD is one of the most important issues that the city faces.  We need to: encourage tourists to extend the number of nights they stay in the city,  encourage Business’s to migrate back to the CBD (not just bars and cafes), we need to encourage the locals back.    For this to happen it is necessary to get the business owners to re-engage in the CBD to bring an eclectic mix of businesses that are not duplicated in the malls.

This has not happened so far.  There are, in my view, a number of reasons for this.

  • The CBD is a mess, it is a constant series of road works that are being done in a hap hazard, ad hoc, incoherent, uncoordinated manner. We have dodgy footpaths, contractors vehicles and trucks parked everywhere,  as well as derelict buildings, empty gravelled dusty sites re-purposed as car parks, struggling cafes and bars, disillusioned, bored and wandering tourists, a bus depot on one of the nicest central sites in the CBD and a marked lack of specialist shops.   The locals hate the CBD, can you imagine what a tourist thinks?
  • The lack of parking!   I will not even bother to discuss the one way streets system, that should have been removed  that are now narrow and cluttered and the massive loss of car parking. The slow progress on re-building the parking buildings is a farce.
  • Combine this with the lack of a decision regarding the repair of the Anglican Cathedral in the square, the repair/restoration of this building is a no brainer in my view.  It is a tourist icon/magnet!
  • The CBD is boring.  I have been watching the commentary trying to suggest that the CBD is Innovative & edgy.  There is nothing in the CBD that signals Innovative & Edgy to me.   I notice in this mornings Press 18.10.16  “The Christchurch City Council announced on Monday that it would merge Canterbury Development Corporation (CDC), Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism (CCT) and some activities undertaken by the council’s events unit, into a single organisation”.  It  looks like more tinkering and no real meaningful action.  Link Here:
  • Rents are too high. Until the rents come down, the CBD is not going to attract the eclectic mix that is needed to make it vibrant. It is the smaller retailers that add diversity.

I am puzzled that neither CERA/CCDU/Otakaro/CCC/Regenerate (or whoever is in charge now?) or the Central City Business Association has not seen the need for some sort of marketing plan. Or at the very least, some communication with the business/building owners in the CBD.  As a building/business owner in the CBD we have had no communication from any of these organisations regarding the long-term plans for going forward. Oh well, there is no point in trying to engage in a conversation with them, they know best.  Tui moment going on here!

Why is no marketing plan?   I can make some very basic observations.

  • The Mayor, Lianne Dalziel, has long-held ties to the East side,  she has been balancing conflicting interests.  If she is seen to “favour the CBD” she faces criticism from the eastern suburb residents who feel that their roading and recovery needs have not been met. She needs to have a hard look at her priorities. She has them wrong.
  • The CCC seems to be operating in a silo,  unaware/uninterested about what is happening in the CBD.  They also seem to be desperately scared of making a decision, afraid that they will get it wrong perhaps?  In fact, any decision is better than no decision. At least we could try to make it work.
  • Her Councillors lack business experience.  It will be interesting to see if the new Central City representative Deon Swiggs, can improve the situation.  I look forward to seeing how he progresses.
  • Constant delays in the new building projects is sapping enthusiasm for rebuilding and re engaging.  The latest being Fletcher’s delaying their new housing development in the east frame. Link here:   as well as numerous delayed CCC projects: Link Here:

ho humm  interesting  times.  I am not holding my breath for an improvement.

I see that Otakaro Ltd  still seem appears to be obsessed with art works and the building of monuments. These seem to be the only developments that they appear to be able to proceed with.  I notice that there is yet more work being done on the Margaret Mahy play ground.  Really?  It is time that they pulled their heads out of the sand and had a close look at the city. Spending more money on a play ground does not sort out the very basic issues in the CBD. Link Here:

It was with some surprise that I spotted this comment by  Otakaro Limited Chief executive Albert Brantley.  He made it when discussing the imminent closure of one lane of Durham Street, a major southward thoroughfare, for 5 and a half months.  “People are urged to keep supporting central city businesses, many of whom have endured years of rebuild road works, but to be aware of potential delays.  Link here:

I wonder if he really has any idea of the colossal ongoing disruption that we have faced in the last 6 years?  (not only with roading) they are not letting the city recover.  Any business that remains in the CBD is likely to be finding life very difficult, there is a shortage of foot traffic, parking, access/egress is a nightmare,  both the locals and businesses have abandoned the city centre.  Those of us left want out.  There appears to have been no consideration given to anyone foolish enough to remain, let alone trying to assist them. We are in an information vacuum, lately the only information I can get comes from the developers rebuilding in our block, the Peebles group, and the workers on the roading contractors work force, who are doing their best to accommodate us, but are facing an up hill battle.  (I still have no ETA on when the road works will finish, so we can not reopen).

So Whats new in High Street.

  • I spotted this interesting link a few days ago regarding the High Street development  on the rebuilt Mckenzie and Willis site. Great work happening here.
  • I have been watching the latest High Street “issue” with a considerable amount of amusement.  The council has installed 19 traffic light poles on one small intersection.  I note that prior to the earthquakes this intersection had no lights at all.  It is a classic case of overkill. When you look at the intersection it is a sea of yellow poles,  definite case of  visual overload.  Link Here:     The CCC felt the need to defend the overkill in a follow-up article: Link Here:     Followed by Johnny Moore’s comment.  We are starting to agree with each other, that’s worrying Johnny!
  • Interestingly I see that there appears to be a similar number of light poles on the High/St Asaph Street intersection.  This new intersection is going to negatively affect the High Street traffic flow. It is going to make access/egress more difficult for High Street.  The reason lower High Street was so run down pre earthquake was the closing off of the lower end of High Street in the 1960’s.  It took years for it to recover.  In fact it was only in the early 2000’s that the area started to recover.
  • I notice that some one has decided to call the new lane way behind the Duncan’s Buildings “Little Tuam”.  Humm not my first choice, I hope that this has not been set in concrete.  “Duncan’s lane” seems more obvious to me, in memory of the original land and building owner.  The Duncan’s Building was designed for Miss E.R Duncan, in 1905, who resided here and ran a stationery and fancy goods store.
  • I see that the Peebles Group  office tenant for his new building has hit a speed bump.  Drat and blast!  They will be disappointed.” Wynyard had a lease from Peebles Group over 1000 sqm of the McKenzie & Willis development where construction workers were still putting finishing touches on parts of the development”.

Odd Spot.

I notice, in an article in the Sunday Feature Christchurch News,  August 31st 1957, an article about Christchurch pot holes.  Some things never change. Maybe we should reactivate this competition?

We have just re-discovered these in our factory, the first Sunday paper printed in New Zealand.  Printed by A.B.D. Clarke from  August 17 1957 – April 26 1958,  for the publisher R.G. McGregor, at the registered office 232A Tuam Street Christchurch.

They are on their way to the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington for safe keeping. As apparently these are the only copies in existence.  Nice one!


Sunday News Feature Christchurch August 31st 1957


PS Progress has been made on my new house.  After a false start in 2013, we are now back at foundations stage. ye ha.  I might just get out of this rental next year……img_20161024_120148162_hdr



8 thoughts on “How not to Repair a Heritage Building in The Christchurch CBD…part 187

  1. You omitted a bullet-point. You, of all people, should appreciate that there are those of us who will never ever forgive the Key regime for the manner in which small business owners were treated by Civil Defense and by CERA. I doubt I am the only one who has vowed never ever again to invest in the area formerly known as the CBD, nor for that matter to invest in any asset which can be stolen from you at any time by a corrupt government

    • Hi Bruce, you raise a very valid point. My omission! I also would encourage any business owner in an earthquake prone CBD building to be very aware of what the likely outcome will be if they are red zoned like we were. It depended very much on where you were as to how much access you had to your buildings. Everyone outside the red zone fence had access to expedite repairs. We were not given that option. (The Victoria St area is a classic example of an area that raced ahead). It also depended on who you were and what school you went to. I hope to Never see this red zoning procedure ever used in New Zealand again. It was ill conceived. It has left a lasting legacy and a loathing of authority that both you and I have. Unfortunately for us we are still stuck with a building. kind regards nicky

      • ” It depended very much on where you were as to how much access you had to your buildings”

        surely, you meant to say “who you were”

      • Sadly, you are correct. Power and money had a big role in what happened in the CBD. The decision making was somehow, in a way I do not yet understand, given to a few, who proved to be totally incompetent. As we have all said over and over, best practice was thrown out the window. I think it has been the greatest property transfer attempt, mostly successsful, made by a New Zealand government since colonization. It was all about accumulating parcels of land. I think those that advised the government early on need a lot of scrutiny. Right down to the inexperienced Enginnering company that first advised Minister Brownlee, (they had no experience with URM’s and panicked). I wait with interest to see if this ever happens, if I ever live that long.!

  2. Those points you make in the first part of this post seem spot on to me. I live in Wgtn but take an interest in Chch and the old CBD – some early family connections. The precincts idea was a bad one and they cant give it up for some reason. Its unbelievable the catherdral has not been restored – the symbol of the city. And when I visit I find the one way system and the lack of parking amazing – esp since the whole place is a essentially a car park. How could they have got this whole rebuild so thoroughly wrong – yet still roll out the same nonsense PR stuff.

    Thanks for the blog – really enjoy seeing an insider’s/victim’s view of things.

    • Hi Graeme, thanks for your remarks. How could they have got it so wrong? Good question. Here in Chch we think it is because the Government refused to listen to the locals, or even engage with them, or bring in outside design experts. They also did not follow best practice. As you can imagine it has not worked.
      You are correct, the central city is impossible to navigate around and park in. I cannot fathom out what on earth they were thinking. I guess it was another case of highly paid bureaucrats with limited skills. And as you point out, they refuse to acknowledge that they have it wrong.
      many thanks for your comments.

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