Derelict Buildings and the Christchurch CBD…

What’s new in High Street?

News Flash….

After waiting for 6 years,  our neighbouring building owner has finally agreed to put his building on the market.

It has gone from this:

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22.2.2011 15 minutes after the earthquake.

 

To This:

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135 High Street, 6 years later!

Yeah ha….

With a bit of  “discussion” we have managed to get a better outcome for everyone.  (There was no personal feud here, we wish the previous owner all the best, his circumstances were difficult to say the least).

The new local owner (not us) is an excellent choice and we are looking forward to the imminent demolition of this eyesore.  I believe this is already under discussion.

It’s a win win!  A very rare occurrence these days in Christchurch land deals.

The new owner, who as you will see, I have not named yet, is planning a new building.  But first the demo will occur.  Our units will look a lot better, some fencing can be removed and it will make the leasing of our building considerably easier.

My guess is we will get a modern frontage and rear, that will look amazing wedged between us old “dungers”.

A pity that it had to take 6 years, with no help from the “powers that be”.   Useless bunch governments and councils.. but I would say that.

One down, one to go, on to the other side now.

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This owner has insurance problems, and has done no work since 2010. 141 High Street

 

Derelict Buildings in the Christchurch CBD & the Minister for Building & Construction.

Well that was a bit of a joke.   An answer from The Minister for Building and Construction, Dr Nick Smith.  He tells me: “I am unable to get involved in individual disputes”…. “talk to the Christchurch City Council…”  or ” seek legal advice”.

Just how out of touch with reality is he? I can name, right now, 6 buildings within  200 metres of us that are derelict and have neighbours desperately trying to get resolution.

This government has been asleep at the wheel for 6 years over these issues.

  •  Incidentally, It is not a dispute. It takes 2 to have a dispute!
  • I have talked to the CCC. Ad Infinitum …. still dead useless…
  • We are now in discussions with LINZ (Land Information New Zealand). They are in charge of the Section 77’s, which to be honest are not worth the paper that they are written on. (These are a renamed section 38 make safe orders).
  • Lawyers?    Does he have a spare $1000 or $5000?  Haven’t the lawyers in Christchurch made enough out of earthquake misery yet? (Mostly as a result of this government not protecting the people and not forcing the insurance industry to settle within a reasonable time period).

Unless the Government develops some gonads, this issue is going to be a re-occurring theme throughout the country. Does the Minister really think that this is not going to be an issue in Wellington?  He’s dreaming. (Not unusual for this particular Minister I might add. He has become known as the minister that reduced the water quality of our rivers by revising the standards.  Down, down, down). http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/89767723/NZ-reputation-hurt-by-declining-water-quality-tourism-industry-says

This issue is going to have a massive impact on surrounding building owners nationwide.  Being surrounded by derelict and abandoned building is going to be the NORM!  Look at some of the small towns in the south island, Timaru, Ashburton, Waimate, Oamaru,  Greymouth, the list is endless,  all of them have un-reinforced  masonry buildings that are now semi abandoned, too expensive to repair, too expensive to pull down as well as being uninsured.

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ho hum, another day in a dysfunctional city.  It certainly is interesting!  I’m off to do some real work, paint the factory wall.

PS I hear that LINZ  are going to demolish one of our neighbours further down the street, this is happening as a result of the meeting between a building owner and Minister Brownlee last week.   Hum…  it appears that the Old boys network is alive and well in Christchurch…  At least it will create a precedent!

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Whoops, it needs to come down now so that the neighbours can open.

High Street – Derelict Buildings in the Christchurch CBD…

What’s New in Lower High Street:

6 years and 1 month after the 22nd February 2011 quake and still neither the Government, Minister Nick Smith,  or the Christchurch City Council have made any attempt to deal with building owners who refuse to repair/sell or sort out their buildings. One has to wonder why?

Is it that it would force some of the “well-heeled” building owners in the city to act. (ie  the Anglican Church in the Square?)  Or is it simpler than that?  They are incompetent?  The jury is out on this issue.

My argument is that CERA/CCDU/Otakaro/Regenerate were tasked with assisting recovery.  It appears to have been a VERY selective assistance is all I can say. They have made no attempts to get High Street back up and running and we now have 2 – soon to be 3 building owners waiting for neighbours to act.  (The only Street in the city still behind fencing after 6 years).

Hot off the Press:  I believe LINZ (Land Information New Zealand) has agreed to the demolition of one of the “made safe” units at the other end of the row, (Laurie Rose building), due to the fact that it will hold up the opening of one of the Duncan’s units.  I see that Minister Brownlee was in the street on Friday (10th March) having a meeting on this site, with building owners, Linz, Lawyers etc.  Interesting, is it not, that the street was “cleaned up” on thursday prior to this meeting.  The 2nd time in 6 years, a coincidence?  Not!  It is okay for the locals to put up with this mess for 6 years but the Minister can not put up with it for 15 minutes?

A pity that the Minister did not walk 100 yards to see another building owner in exactly the same situation. Very selective treatment is a norm in Christchurch I am afraid.

Governments should not be in charge of disasters, they do a poor job.

Re the Duncan’s Units:

  • I am now wading through 124 pages of the  Resource Consent document for the demolition of the backs of the 8 Duncan’s Units purchased by the Peebles Group. http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/90142156/progress-at-last-for-christchurchs-lower-high-st-as-developers-launch-heritage-rescue          Hum..  I am not sure that I entirely agree with some of the statements in this document.  There are a number of factual errors.   Financial expediency rules here I think. My feeling is that the outcome is not the correct one, but it is unlikely that I will get a say in the matter.  Add that to the fact that Resource Consents gave me the paper work “run around” last week when we demolished a badly damaged brick wall  (that we are rebuilding I might add) and this week they are likely to consent demolition of the entire backs of 8 units with no qualms at all.  One could say that “one is pissed off!”  she says holding her nose. I know what I will say when you ring me again…..
  • I note that some of the larger building owners have made a deputation to the CCC regarding the new “Inaccessible” city. (We did this weeks ago).  I hope you get somewhere. The problem is that they will not listen and they refuse to accept that they have it wrong. (I might add that we are now totally unable to access our back service entrance off St Asaph Street,  our paper suppliers can not park safely and the drivers refuse to come to our front entrance because they have to back out of the street). I notice that the Fire service at 1.30 pm today feels it is safer to drive in the middle of the road, straddling both lanes than to try to squeeze into one lane.  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/90413666/anger-at-an-accessible-city-central-christchurch-traffic-plan
  • Our new toilet block is emerging from the mud.  Literally.  3 days of rain have turned it into a nasty mess.  The opening of the neighbours service trench along side has not helped.
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  • We have just sold off Our Heidelberg Cylinder, in preparation for our exiting the building.  It is off to the big smoke in Auckland. It “crawled” its way out the door yesterday.  Sad really:  Another small Christchurch company closing down due to: a too slow recovery process, impossible parking and access conditions, lack of assistance from “the powers that be” regarding surrounding buildings, Inaccessible City centre, etc  I could go on…  We are collateral damage.  What’s another couple of unemployed old printers going to do next???  Unemployment here we come. ye ha!!!!
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The sun is shining, our mud hole is drying up and retirement beckons….  ye ha

 

Earthquake Strengthening legislation -one rule for Wellington and for us?

“The Government is using emergency powers introduced after the November 2016 quake to require the work in Wellington, Lower Hutt, and Blenheim, where there is a heightened risk of an aftershock, to force 300 building owners to strengthen within a year”.

  • “The Government announced it would foot half of each repair bill to help building owners with costs, with the “tie-back” of facades – which involves anchoring them to the main building – estimated to cost between $20,000 and $30,000″.  Christchurch has have been requesting assistance with these issues for 6 years and has been ignored. There also needs to be changes to tax legislation (strengthening needs to be tax-deductible). There needs to be a discussion on how to pay for the full strengthening needed and there also needs to be a discussion on which buildings should be “saved”.
  • “The building work will be exempt from resource and building consents, providing the work is overseen by a qualified engineer”.   We personally were held up with our strengthening for over 18 months trying to get building consent. There needs to be better communication with Council’s and a better understanding of the issues. ie fewer obstacles to strengthening.
  • “Should owners refuse to do the work, councils will have the power to undertake strengthening and recover costs from the owners, with a fine of up to $200,000 possible for continued refusal”.  Really??????   We are surrounded by damaged and  un-strengthened buildings and have been for 6 years and STILL no action is being taken. This needs to be addressed. Neighbouring building owners should not be penalised by the inaction of a few. How about the Christchurch City Council address our issues with derelict buildings?  In your dreams….

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Surrounded on both sides by derelict and unrepaired buildings.  The threat of a  $200,000 fine would certainly force my neighbours to make some decisions about repairing their buildings – or selling them to some one more proactive. But this decision does not apply in Christchurch…..

Forgive me for being irritated but this smacks of politics in an election year. And the irony is that none of these measures apply to Christchurch.  One rule for Wellington and no rules in Christchurch?  One could speculate as too why Wellington gets preferential treatment.  These measures are long overdue. It still does not resolve the Engineering issues, (varying strengthening methods and varying assessments standards by different Engineer’s, nor does it assist Building owners to understand what is involved in the strengthening work or give any guidance on how to proceed with it).

Building and Construction Minister Nick Smith should extend this legislation. He has not protected all Building owners equally.   I will stop while I am ahead.  This makes me incandescent with rage. (I have sent Nick Smith an email requesting that he extends the $200,000 fine’s policy to Christchurch,  I am not holding my breath.  After 6 years I would be very foolish to hold out any hope of a speedy resolution to our issues. My guess is that they will come back with the hoary old chestnut answer off oh “you do not understand the Insurance issues at play here”.  Bull s…   answer….).

It should not have taken 6 years for these issues to be addressed. And at this stage it is only in the central New Zealand region.  It needs a nation wide policy. The Powers that be are still asleep at the wheel.

Link Here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/nz-earthquake/88752734/new-earthquake-laws-could-force-building-owners-to-strengthen-within-a-year

Ho Hummmm… It’s a beautiful day, I think I will go and do a bit of unpaid work and go “Buggerising on Facebook” as Minister Brownlee puts it.

PS.

I sent a letter to Minister Nick Smith a few days ago requesting that fines be imposed on Christchurch Building owners who have abandoned their buildings, to the detriment of the surrounding building owners.   Copies below. I await an answer with interest.

 

From: Card Makers [mailto:mail@cardmakers.co.nz]
Sent: Friday, 27 January 2017 8:59 a.m.
To: Nick 4 Nelson
Subject: re earthquake legislation.
 
Dear Mr Smith,
 
Please extend your earthquake legislation to the Christchurch City Area, the part most in need is the ability to fine reluctant building owners.
 
 I have attached a link to my latest blog regarding this legislation,  to show you our plight.
 
https://cardmakerschc.wordpress.com/
 
 I apologise for being angry but you have ignored the situation in Christchurch for 6 years.
 
We are trapped between 2 damaged buildings  and the neighbouring building owners refuse to take action.  It has meant that we are unable to reopen our shop, we have had no wages for 6 years and our earthquake strengthening work was a pointless waste of time and money.
 
 
 Why have you not addressed this issue? Please extend the $200,000 fine for inactivity to Christchurch, as our situation is dire. And please make sure that the CCC uses this legislation.
 
Yours Sincerely
 
Nicky Arts
Christchurch
 

Reply received:  27.1.17

Dear Nicky
 
On behalf of Hon Dr Nick Smith, Minister for Building and Construction, thank you for your correspondence of January 27 2017 regarding the recent Government announcement requiring some building owners to secure unreinforced masonry parapets and facades in areas of heightened risk following the Kaikoura event.
 
Your email has been placed before the Minister and you may expect a reply in due course.
 
Kindest regards
 
Kris McGillivray | Ministerial Secretary | Office of Hon Dr Nick Smith
Minister for Building and Construction | Minister for the Environment | MP for Nelson
5.3 Executive Wing Beehive | Parliament Buildings | Wellington 6160 | New Zealand

Quake Prone Buildings….again or is that still….

There has been a flurry of articles recently about quake prone buildings.  I hope some action will be taken as a result of these articles.  So far,  I think that this issue is way too hard for the powers that be in Christchurch.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/87089167/Calls-for-faster-action-on-quake-prone-buildings

also:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/87224456/new-earthquake-legislation-could-see-more-yellowstickered-buildings-in-wellington

I thought that the situation in Christchurch and now Wellington would have given some impetus to resolving these issues. But…

I saw an excellent summary by John Goddard (John Goddard is an Associate in Morrison Kent’s dispute resolution teama few days, it is the simplest to understand summary of some of the issues that I have seen.  So far no one is listening.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/nz-earthquake/87304877/john-goddard-confusion-and-lack-of-clarity-around-assessing-quakedamaged-buildings

As a building owner in Christchurch, we have been badly let down by the current mishmash of legislation.  As you know, we are trapped between two red stickered, unsafe buildings and have been for 6 years.    It seems to me that after 6 years a better, more robust mechanism must be put in place. Especially for the smaller building owners who are unable to fund repairs. (Loans, rates rebates, time limits, compulsory acquisition are all solutions to these problems…).  The government and the CCC have been asleep at the wheel on this issue for 6 years.  ( The CER act that they put in place after the quakes apparently does not appear to cover the eventuality of abandonment).

Nine to noon was this morning talking about this issue:  http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/201828381/more-building-checks-ordered-for-cbd

So what is new in High St:

  • Our building amendment for an 18sqm toilet block has come through.  The Engineer has been holding this one up.  Sigh, he is a busy man.  We start the rebuild in February.
  • Some one in their infinite wisdom has removed all the red, water filled, safety barriers from the front of the damaged Duncan’s Buildings.  That’s weird, the buildings must have fixed themselves overnight?  Not.P1000328.JPG
  • They still have not finished the tar sealing the new berm a few meters away from our door.  They have had about 5 attempts at it. Typical.
  • The CCC has approved removal of 5 trees in front of the Duncan’s Buildings to allow for facade propping. http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/87608488/five-trees-to-be-removed-from-central-christchurch-street-to-allow-for-building-repairs

Have a wonderful Christmas.  May it be shake free…

P.s. My house is appearing above the ground! ye haP1010225.JPG

 

 

Life in the Christchurch CBD Red Zone….

Due to the fact that the Christchurch City Council does not do any maintenance in parts of our street (ie cleaning, removing rubbish, fixing water leaks etc) in the red Zone fenced off area,  we have taken to doing our own rudimentary “street sweeping”.   It is a dirty,  wet, smelly and unhygienic mess.  We got tired of the mess being walked into our factory area!

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I wonder if we have to join the Road workers union?

Just think Wellington has all this to look forward too!

It’s a beautiful day, our consent has come through for our new toilet block and Christmas is fast approaching.

PS. As of today  some new “bicycle racks and repair station”, on the corner of High and St Asaph streets, have just been “unveiled”, for some reason this did not warrant an official ceremony, I see no sign of Gerry or Bill English! In fact I have never seen any of them in 6 years.  Could it be because it is a tragic waste of funds in a dead-end street in front of a building that has had no repairs done in 6 years.  But I would say that!

They would look amazing if the street was fixed, they are very clever, a cross between an artwork and a practical funky bike stand!

 

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Wellington edition of Shaky Town Blues, a guide to abandoned and derelict buildings. Part 191

How to survive being surrounded by derelict Buildings and Fencing in the Christchurch CBD especially written for Wellington Retailers,  How to cope with Derelict and Abandoned buildings and what to expect!

This is a survival guide for SME ‘s (Small and medium-sized enterprises) written by a building owner in the Christchurch CBD, for Wellington, Kaikoura and Blenheim retailers, based on our experience.

This follows on from a blog written in January 2015.  Building Owners Guide to Red Stickering.   Which is still very relevant.  https://cardmakerschc.wordpress.com/2015/01/28/in-memory-of-four-years-of-our-lives-lost-to-insurance-and-building-issues-in-christchurch/

After 6 years we thought we would cast some light on the inefficiency of the “Powers that be” in dealing with building abandonment issues.

First the back ground.  You are a business trying to survive and trade in a building that is surrounded by derelict buildings and fencing, in a now dead-end street.  You are the only building open in that section of street.  P1000572.JPG

Basic ground rules:

1.  Do not expect any help or assistance from anyone.   Your local Council’s will not know that you exist and Government officials ( CERA/CCDU/Regenerate/Otakaro or what ever alphabet soup they are currently using)  will be invisible.  (There will be the odd exception to this but they are few and far between, do not count on it.)

2. The fencing surrounding you will be put in place with great precision and fanfare.  That is the last time the “powers that be” will inspect it.  ( After 6 years it will be a mess and leak like a sieve. It becomes a looters magnet).

3. There will no security arrangements put in place.  Either for you or the derelict buildings. Alarm your building now.  The abandoned buildings are a “looters magnet”.

4.  There will be no infrastructure repairs done in your area, in our case for 6 years.

5. No contractor will want to work on your building. Especially if it is a Heritage Building.

6. There will be no foot traffic, for 6 years…. and still counting.

7. You will have No communication from anyone in power.  You will have no idea what is happening, remember at all times:  Say it after me:  “The powers that be” do not communicate”.

8. You will never find out who is in charge!  Think of it as a game.  Otherwise you will go insane. They will all duck for cover when you ring and they will dump your call for help as soon as they can.

9. Repeated attempts to get the other building owners to act, including the government (they purchased buildings in High Street and did nothing for 3 years ), will be ineffective and futile. Save your energy for a battle that you can win.

10.  There is no legislation in place for this situation. Otherwise I would not be writing this for you would I?
The government can fine a farmer for not wearing his helmet on a motor bike,  as a Health and Safety issue, but they can not stop a building owner from abandoning a dangerous building for 6 years.

11. There will be no mail delivery, rubbish collection or street sweeping,  for 6 years..  and counting.

12.  It is only possible to stay in your building if you have a niche customer base.  If your business relies on foot traffic close now.  It is retail suicide to stay open if you are dependent on foot traffic!  The public do not want to risk coming to your business if they feel unsafe in the area.  The Best advice I can give you is get web based as quickly as you can.  Working from home can work in certain instances, but it really is not worth the effort.  Close down and get another job.  (This is what we should have done).

13.  Do not be surprised if they close the street completely because they do not know that you are still there.  ie for road works  because they want  convenient car park.etc.

They do not know who you are and remember at all times that they do not Care, you are collateral damage and you are not important.   What did you say your name was?  Where are you from?

14.  They will lock you out of your building after every magnitude 5 quake.  They will require a Level 2 Engineers assessment before you can re-enter.  Insist that you see this assessment if you are a tenant in a building.  Also insist on seeing the DEE (Detailed Engineering Assessment).

15.  If you have to raid your own stock from a building that is abruptly closed, do so SAFELY.  Wear fluro, preferably with “Engineer” on the back,  carry a clip board, do it in broad day light.  Have spotters looking out for trouble ie any one else in fluro….  Take your accounts, wage books, grab your computer, chuck your stock in a wheelie bin. BE SAFE not reckless!  (Stock will be pillaged, looted overnight if you leave the building unattended).

Sad but true!

http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/sunday/audio/201824561/ilan-noy-the-economics-of-disasters

“Professor Ilan Noy, chair in economic disasters at Victoria University, tells Wallace why he thinks it’s a bad idea and discusses the likely economic impact of this week’s quakes”.

It is well worth listening to this!

Be prepared for the long haul and do not sweat over the small stuff.

I know that you will think that I am exaggerating, I am not and you will find that out.

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