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

 

Inaccessible City- The CHCH CBD

As a follow on from my last post in January. I note that I have not had a response from the Building Minister, Nick Smith, regarding the implementation of stronger legislation in Christchurch, or even an attempt to force recalcitrant building owners to clean up their derelict buildings.

I notice the Press did an article a few days ago with a list of the 10 worst Buildings. “They ask if six years is long enough”?   I think any resident of Christchurch will give you a resounding Yes to that question!   Frustrating….

Link Here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/89590828/eyesore-sites-still-blot-christchurch-cbd-landscape-six-years-after-the-earthquake

The problem is that NO ONE is doing anything about the situation. Some “backside covering” going on here I think, at a very high level I suspect.

Christchurch City Council is ineffective as I suspect is the new organisation,
Development Christchurch Limited (DCL).  (A division of the CCC with no funding).
and Land Information New Zealand -LINZ is invisible.  They are responsible for the “make safes” section 38 now renamed 77’s!  Confusing!
I see that the Duncan’s Buildings  are on this list of the “infamous”. No surprises here,  (I notice that Phillip Carters old WINZ building in High St is not on the list). There are many others who deserve to be on this list as well.

ho hum SNAFU

I had a wry grin on my face today when I saw this.

The Inaccessible City, By Mike Yardly. He has said exactly what a fellow retailer in St Asaph St and I, told some CCC Councillors about 3 weeks ago.
I hope he has more success in getting through to them than we did. He says it so beautifully!

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/89827400/mike-yardley-christchurch-street-changes-making-city-inaccessible-not-accessible

CCC and Otakaro have redesigned the CBD roading network, it is a debacle, the roads are too narrow,  have large concrete kerbs, multiple levels, are visually unappealing, it is impossible to access the few parks we have left and we have almost no loading zones.  I am aware of a number of retailers who are starting to look for new premises outside this area.  The CBD has become totally inaccessible now.

As Mike Yardly points out: “The pencil-thin lanes are utterly unforgiving with no breathing space or margin for error. Buses, trucks and wide-boy SUVs can barely fit within them. If they have to turn a corner, they duly encroach the neighbouring lane in order to carry out the manoeuvre. Daft and dangerous.

Of the few remaining on-street car parks, their configuration is so tight that motorists have no choice but to bring traffic to a stand-still while they painstakingly negotiate themselves into the slot.”

Nice One!

What’s New In High Street?

Our new toilet block is slowly starting to take shape. We give our grateful thanks to Andrew Evans at Intrados Architecture for helping us to negotiate the Design and Consents issues.

The slab gets poured on Friday this week.P1010343.jpg

Below:

The Peebles Group has dumped the steel for the propping of the facades of their 8 Duncan’s Units in the street, unfortunately it is not going to do much good there, it needs to go in.

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Have a great day, stay out of the CBD, you can not get there anyway, the roads are blocked, there are limited parks  and you will break your neck tripping on the road cones!

 

 

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

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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Christchurch rebuilding- St Asaph Street Roadworks…

I have been watching the new road works proceeding in St Asaph Street with some horror.  Not only is the new High Street entry from Madras Street damn dangerous (you have a constant stream of one way traffic behind you as you try to turn into the entry).  The St Asaph Street layout is a predictable debacle.  The road way has been narrowed significantly.  Now when you park (If you can find a park that is) you open your car door directly into the car lanes.  The width of the footpaths and the width of the bike lanes have made the road impossibly narrow.  Two buses can not manoeuver side by side.  I will not even discuss the loss of 200 odd parks.  Link to Press article here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/86977882/mass-road-works-drive-away-christchurch-businesses-customers

Apparently, according to my sources there was a meeting at the Chamber of Commerce a few days ago, where Peter Townsend facilitated  the meeting of mainly CBD business and
building owners, 3 Council Officials gave a presentation on the Accessible City program.

The Q & A session was “very vocal” and it was extended…..

(Peter Townsend was “terse” at the level of concern at the situation in St Asaph Street.  Massive loss of parking, narrow and dangerous road way, endless unfinished road works, total lack of concern for remaining retailers etc ).

Some of the issues raised in the Q & A afterwards:
30km Speed Limit,
CBD Traffic Management,
Parking (especially the removal of parking spaces),
concerns were expressed on the safety and practicality of the new redesigned pavement-cycle lane-parking-road streetscape,
ongoing roadworks
and the effects of these changes on local businesses.

St Asaph St was cited as an example by a number of attendees which backs
up my hunch this is an ongoing problem for this area.

Peter Townsend announced that a follow-up meeting will be held.  Looks like the Chamber of Commerce has deemed the issues raised to be significant and it will become engaged …

Thanks to my source! I am too unimportant to get an invite to such a meeting! Which is a bit weird really as I am directly affected by these road works, it has cost us dearly, as it has delayed our opening for the Christmas trade, as a pop up shop.  Reminder to self,  Repeat after me: “They do not care, we are collateral damage”.

2.12.16 The Press has now caught up with me, Link Here:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/87079377/tensions-run-high-as-anger-over-central-christchurch-roading-nears-boiling-point

So… the constant closing and narrowing of roads in the CBD  has now hit a new level of dysfunctionality.

As far as I can work out the road layout was designed by the CERA/CCDU dictators,  when they had one of their “brain waves” some years ago.  The consultation was an absolute sham.  It will take a brave City Council Mayor to resolve the ongoing issues that have been foisted upon the city by the Government.

The late Architect, Ian Athfield was correct in saying that the one streets should have been removed from the central city.  They are a failed 1960’s experiment.

ho humn, I am going to take the day off!  As a busy retailer in the CBD I may as well.

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At the moment this St Asaph/High/Madras/Ferry road Intersection has 10 white poles, (purpose unknown) and 18 traffic light poles.  Is this necessary?  really? Visual overload!

 

2.12.16 Late breaking news.  Article just proves that the council is toothless and totally dysfunctional. I bet that if the High Block was in Cashel Mall they would find a way of acting in a more proactive manner.    http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/87089167/calls-for-faster-action-on-quakeprone-buildings