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

 

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

How not to repair a Heritage Building in the Christchurch CBD, High Street Saga gets ugly…

My Gosh the saga continues, now the truth starts to come out.

I had prepared a blog weeks ago regarding this issue, which I have just had to trash as this latest Press article is a beauty.  I had been told many months ago that some Christchurch developers had been trying to delay development in this area, but the truth was even nastier than I thought.

It is a shame that I had to read about it in the Press.  The lack of communication with Otakaro Ltd on an issue that definitely effects our lively hood is slightly disturbing. A continuation of the status quo I am afraid.

I take my hat off to the Press and Nick Truebridge for pulling the OIA documents, which I need to work through carefully.  I will let you know if I find anything interesting.

I have always strongly suspected that the Duncan’s Buildings sale for redevelopment was deliberately stalled by CERA/CCDU  and I may never get an answer to this unsubstantiated accusation.  It may have been bureaucratic inefficiency  who knows, without pulling further documents it may remain forever murky.

The Press article points out that the delays were certainly not minimised by a group of self-serving, wealthy, Christchurch business owners. (With rather obvious links to the CCDU’s Warrick Issacs).

I think this group of leading “High-profile Christchurch developers” should hang your heads in shame.

A number of building owners in the Duncan’s Block, who have been attempting to do the right thing, await a public apology from you all… I have just seen hell freeze over.

Not only did you attempt to further stall development and recovery for the city  (and a number of small building owners, who you obviously don’t give a toss about) you have embarrassed yourselves publicly.

The Hall of shame awaits you.images.jpg

Documents released under the Official Information Act show developers Philip Carter and Antony Gough were among those who wrote to Crown company Otakaro urging it not to sell the High St Duncan’s buildings directly to Richard Peebles and his associates.

Also involved was: “Guthrey suggested a five year moratorium should be placed on the property sold that it not be developed for retail” and the “National Party board member Roger Bridge, also involved in the legal action, wrote to the Crown expressing interest in buying the land, but said he had no prior knowledge of Peebles’ interest.”

5 years ?  gosh we have already waited 6 years and you wanted to stall us another 5 years?  nasty…

I also notice that there was a letter from “Ballantynes” that has been withheld from the OIA documents, 10 June 2016.

Link Here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/82968307/highprofile-christchurch-developers-spoke-out-against-sale-of-crowns-high-st-property-to-rival

Interestingly there was no mention of this issue in the OIA documents I received regarding the Duncan’s Buildings a number of weeks ago.  Obviously the wrong questions were asked.

I congratulate Otakaro Ltd,  Albert Brantley CEO on his decision to allow the sale of the Duncan’s Buildings to proceed.  It is a pragmatic decision, that takes into account the needs of the entire city, it considers Heritage aspects and regeneration of this area.  (As well as a few small building owners in this area who have stuck their necks way too far out).    Thank You.

Oh well, what a beautiful cold Christchurch day.  I hope this group of men choke on their coffees this morning as they read the Press.

P.S.  11.8.16  It looks like peace is about to break out: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/83064472/developers-close-to-resolution-over-high-st-legal-challenge

I note that Christchurch Heritage Trust chairwoman  Anna Crighton made a pertinent remark in The Star 11/8/16:  “Those buildings, apart from the few that are privately owned, have been languishing there since the earthquakes and nobody bothered about them until Richard Peebles picked them up and decided to do something about them. Now all of a sudden other people want to buy them as well.  Well everybody had a good chance many years ago”.      A very relevant comment.

I look forward to seeing the street restored to its former, bohemian, Left-bank glory!

Incidentally here are a few of the latest High Street links:  Now a tad redundant!

NICK TRUEBRIDGE,  July 5 2016,  in the Business day section of the Press.  http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/81764209/high-st-master-plan-fuels-dispute-between-christchurch-developers

This was closely followed by an opinion piece by Tom Hooper on the 8th July in the Business day section of the Press. He comments that the last thing our city needs is legal challenges that hold up progress..  Link here:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/81892716/tom-hooper-we-need-to-be-fighting-for-the-city-not-fighting-over-it

Closely followed By

 

 

How NOT to rebuild Christchurch

Jeepers, oh what fun…  I am glad that I have existing user rights for my repaired building. It looks like the “big boys from Cashel Street” are all throwing their toys out of the cot… and attempting to mire real progress in this area down in legal challenges.

They appear to have forgotten a number of very simple points:

  • The “Innovation precinct” moniker was an “after thought” throw away line thought up by some so-called “clever planner” at the last-minute of the design stage by the CCDU planners.
  • This block was always expected to have retail in it. It is “Mixed use”.
  • It is a block with a significant Heritage Building in it.  If they had bothered to ask me I could have told them that it was unlikely to be coming down and that it always was going to be small retail /office tenants.
  • This is a PR disaster for the CCCL.  Have they not figured this out yet???
  • Most of us cannot afford to rent in Cashel mall and DO NOT WANT TO.

Interesting is it not.

Here is an editorial published on Monday.   Link Here:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/81413662/editorial-chch-developers-are-doing-the-right-thing-by-challenging-retail-project

humm no comment.

Followed up by this in the Press:http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/81494726/mckenzie-and-willis-developer-richard-peebles-questions-timing-of-legal-action

“Peebles said 181 High Ltd’s consent was for 2200 square metres of retail and seven boutique retail shops would be created, not 55”.   (I can not come to 55 shops no matter how many times I count it up).

Followed up by Radio NZ:

http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/307421/chch-developers-in-fight-over-resource-consent

  “ …  Antony Gough, the spokesman for developers taking court action, said investors in the Retail Precinct had lost tenants to Mr Peebles and other smaller owners on High Street. …”

Now we have incoming support for our new precinct: http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/81543849/fellow-christchurch-developer-comes-into-bat-for-50-million-development

Good comment by Shaun Stockman regarding the nature of the development.  “The people that will rent in lower High St are not the people who will be in The Crossing,” Stockman said.

Followed up by Johnny Moore’s comment column.

“Johnny Moore: High St stoush is ‘closed-shop behaviour'”

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/81600021/johnny-moore-high-st-stoush-is-closedshop-behaviour

Nice one Johnny, my sentiments exactly.  “Reinforcing stereotypes that Christchurch is an Old Boys Club where old families and old money control things, CCCL is made up of the Christchurch elite”.

I also resent my rates money being used to fight this legal stoush. 

Also, I might add, A director of CCCL is Warrick Issacs,  the ex director of the Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU).  how can this be?

ho humm.   Another day in a very weird city.

Apologies for the caution shown in these last few posts.  I may end up in court as well as I am in the Innovation Precinct and I am in retail as well. lol

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How not to repair a Heritage Precinct in the Christchurch CBD

I had heard whispers that this was happening.  A very interesting article by NICK TRUEBRIDGE    23.6.16

“Christchurch development figures start new company, launch High Court proceedings”

Christchurch at its worst.  A group of wealthy businessmen trying to stop retail development in an area that they do not own.  Are they so afraid that this may be competition?  Do they not have the best interests of the city at heart?   Why do we have to resolve this in court?  This should have been sorted out before hand by arbitration/mediation.  Do we not believe in the open market economy and competition?

“A group of Christchurch’s most powerful development figures have joined forces to mount a legal challenge against the city council and the company behind the $50 million McKenzie and Willis redevelopment.

City Centre Christchurch Limited (CCCL) was incorporated on June 8 and filed High Court proceedings to seek a judicial review against the council and 181 High Limited two days later. 

A who’s who of Christchurch property developers and businessmen are connected to the new company, including, among others, Antony Gough, Tim Carter and Roger Bridge as directors, and Warwick Isaacs, Philip Carter and Michael Ogilvie-Lee as shareholders”.

Link Here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/81378413/christchurch-development-figures-start-new-company-launch-high-court-proceedings

and Now here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/81412297/developers-legal-challenge-symptom-of-available-city-space-expert-says

The real danger is that the public might conclude that they do not want competition to their retail developments in the Cashel Street area.  The public may well ask the question as too why these guys are worried that the smaller Peebles development will take tenants from the larger central city development..  “Gough said CCCL sought a review of resource consents granted for areas that were not intended to be used for retail, but which had been approved for it”.

Everyone in the city knows that the original plan designed by the CCDU, under Warrick Issacs leadership I might add,  for the so-called “Innovation Precinct” was flawed.  At every meeting I ever had with the CCDU, no one could actually tell me what an “Innovation Precinct” was.  I still do not know.

What these gentlemen seem to have forgotten is that it not in the BEST INTERESTS of the city to stop rebuilding and mire redevelopment in legal action.  What about arbitration?  “Asked who came up with the idea for the company, Gough said it was a mutual choice and the company was made up of people “passionate about the centre city”.  yeah right…. There should be some way of dealing with these issues out of court.

Pull your heads in, this looks “anti” any other development but your own.

ps: Richard Peebles’ development is coming together quickly, heaps better than what we had before.  It was retail before the quakes I might add.

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the old McKenzie and Willis building.

Below is a photo of the new lane way behind us, starting to be formed.

 

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The new lane way is starting to appear.

grirr-  could make one very grumpy to see the “well-connected land owners” fight competition and try to stall development in other areas.

pps. Our scaffolding is down and the frontage is looking great.

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ppps: Is this the outcome that these business owners  really want.  After 6 years????

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6 years progress in High St.

How Not to repair a Heritage Building in Christchurch

Wah hoo!  What an interesting email this morning from CERA.

The long awaited (5 years) Public Realm Networks document.  The lane ways Network plan. ie “proposed traffic function changes in the area near your property on High St”.   While I had a early morning plate of Wheatbix  I studied the document.  Ho humm.  There will be some building owners further down the South Frame who will be in a rage this morning.  They are the ones that have had their properties “sliced and diced” by the network of lanes.

Email and Link Below:

“As you know, as part of the South Frame we are creating new lanes and courtyards near your property. I am pleased to advise that the developed design report for this area is now publicly available, so you can download and share it anytime from http://ccdu.govt.nz/projects-and-precincts/the-south-frame
We will soon be doing work on Mollett, Poplar and Ash Streets so that they integrate with these new public spaces and encourage greater foot and bicycle traffic in the area. As Mollett, Poplar and Ash Streets are public roads controlled by the Christchurch City Council, we require their approval to change the traffic function and movements to allow for this new shared-space environment. The Council will be voting on these proposed changes at their public meeting on 11 February, so we are collecting feedback from affected landowners to assist with this process.
 
I have attached an information leaflet which details the proposed traffic changes and shows how they will create a new shared-space environment in the new lanes. We are also sending this information to other landowners, businesses and stakeholders in the area.
 
You are welcome to submit your feedback on these traffic changes to info@ccdu.govt.nz by 29 January, and it will be included in a report to the Council prior to their meeting. We would also like to invite you to a drop-in session where we will have our design team, traffic planners and technical experts available to answer any questions about the work and traffic movements on these streets. This session will be held on Thursday 28 January, 2-4pm at the EPIC building, 96 Manchester St”.
 
I even get to place feedback by the 29th of January 2016.  Gosh that is a long time,  9 days.  You must be kidding!   It took you 5 years to come up with this document and I get 9 days.  The Law is an ass.  (Or is that CERA?).

I have had a wee look to see what the implications for us are. Not many as far as I can see.  They have gone for the cheap/silly option with the lane way behind us,  ie they refused to purchase the building directly behind us so the new lane way has a kink in it.   It is unclear how they intend to deal with the “Right of Way” that services the Duncan’s Building’s  (this right of way is on the titles of the Duncan’s Buildings)  and the merging of the lane ways.   That is funny, in the Pix they just stop in mid air.

Note to self: I will keep our right of way open, Hell will freeze over before I close it.  Consider this fair warning or revenge if you like.  I will open both the St Asaph Street end and the gate temporarily closing it at our boundary.

The lane way is pedestrian only.  Though it seems like it will have some access for emergency and service vehicles.

All very nice and pretty.  But I have a few questions!  It is now 5 years since the earthquakes, the length of World War 11 I might add.  In our block are they going to build the lane way first so that people can come and admire  CERA’s 7 abandoned units in the Duncans Buildings?  Gosh maybe we can charge a fee to the tourists for looking.  I certainly want a $1. for every picture that is taken of the street.  I could retire!  Or CERA  are you going to repair the buildings you own and get them on the market?  Are you going to supply some security for the 7 units you own?  I had to call the cops again on Saturday early morning  (3.15am) to get some people of my roof and back deck.

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CERA owns these 7 units, No progress here. The New lane way runs at the back of this!

All this is aside from the obvious questions:  Who is going to pay for the lane way, who is going to maintain them? Who is responsible for them? etc etc.  Boring I know.

Ho humm, just another day wasted reading their silly concept documents.

Limbo land on High Street continues.  The only part of Christchurch still locked behind fencing.

How not to repair a Heritage Building in Christchurch

Hot off the Press…

Notification that the South Frame lanes network details have been announced.  (The ones that have been sitting on the ministers desk for over 6 months…..) Link here:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/73878366/south-frame-details-and-drawings-revealed

“The powers that be” have finally released the South Frame Connections & Spaces Design Synopsis.  For a brief second I got excited.  Finally we will get some detail of the new lane ways proposals? Some certainty, clarification and guidance…..   It was not to be…. I am astonished by the lack of detail in this document.  At 11 pages,  they must have written a page a month,  at an average of 150 words per page. (Over 60% of this document is useless concept pictures.)

My question is this: How is a building owner in the South Frame supposed to make a commercial decision regarding rebuilding on the basis of this document?  The answer is it is not possible.  This is a joke.  There are not site plans or measurements, no street lay outs, no landscaping details… the list goes on.   Just exactly what has the CCDU been doing since the 10 December 2014 when they promised us some detailed design drawings?

I am totally underwhelmed.

To save you hunting for it.   Link here: http://ccdu.govt.nz/sites/default/files/south-frame-design-synopsis-20151110.pdf

The South Frame has been a disaster, it looks abandoned.   Section after section is vacant.  This area has been badly handled.  (As is usual with anything CERA/CCDU messes with.)

“The Crown compulsorily bought only half the 113 private properties originally earmarked for the project, spending $37 million. Designations were lifted or reduced on the rest. More than 50 per cent of land in the South Frame is now vacant, and existing businesses, including car sales yards, remain on private sites.

The map of the south frame is on page 10 bottom right hand corner.  It is so small that you will need a magnifying glass to learn anything. The lack of detail is staggering.

This is at first glance not a meaningful document that will inspire confidence.  It will give no certainty to the landowners left in the south frame.

Ho humm, it might look better in the morning. (Unfortunately it does not).

This was published in the Business day section yesterday. “Cera creating conditions for capital-raising ‘natural disaster’, cash-raiser says”   By Tim Fulton.

It refers to the bun fight that occurred between land owners/Investors in the city mall project.

“The Government had not only defined how wider precinct areas would look but also attempted to take control at a micro level in managing the delivery of these projects – in effect telling the private sector how they would spend their money,” Tim Howe, founder of Ocean Partners, was behind the Christchurch Provident Investment Co (CPIC) that had raised $200 million for a now-abandoned City Mall development.”

“Lincoln University property professor John McDonagh said big developments in Cashel Street were “pretty much all we will get in the CBD core.”

McDonagh, an associate professor in property studies, said state-led “anchor” projects were notable by their absence.

A recent Colliers report made it clear that investing in more CBD office space made no financial sense. Buildings under construction now would probably be “all that is needed for a long time,” he said.

An over-supply of fix ups to pre-earthquake buildings would make curtail further development and hit suburban office space rents and vacancy levels.

There was still 30 hectares of vacant commercial land in the city available but plans for it were unknown, McDonagh said”.  Link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/73820724/cera-creating-conditions-for-capitalraising-natural-disaster-cashraiser-says

Whats new in High Street:

  • The new proposal for the old Excelsior Hotel is excellent news.  The old facade will be rebuilt in modern materials.  In my view after waiting 5 years this is excellent news. I look forward to the start of this project.  Link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/73751470/heritage-facade-on-old-excelsior-hotel-will-be-lost
  • CCDU still has not sold its 7 units in the street.  As we come up to the 5 years anniversary of the February 2011 quakes, one can only wonder at their inability to make a decision.
  • We are waiting on the floor sander to come and sand our floor, then we go to final fit out stage in the retail area.
  • The Mckenzie and Willis site is cleared of all rubble and the foundations of the new building are going in.

    A major concrete foundation pour is occurring this morning, on the Mckenzie and Willis site.

    A major concrete foundation pour is occurring this morning, on the Mckenzie and Willis site.

  • The Billens site is clear.
  • The North end unit of the Duncans buildings has been “made safe” under a “section 38 Make safe order”.  It is so safe now, that a total rebuild will be necessary.  Incidentally it took the contractor over 10 days, and I estimate it cost $100,000.  gulp!!!!
Before Section 38

Before Section 38 “Make safe”

This is what an estimated $100000 of make safe work looks like.

This is what an estimated $100000 of make safe work looks like.

The weather is good, the evening is warm, and the design synopsis for the south frame will make a good fire lighter.  That is all its good for.

Sleep well…..