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

 

How not to repair a Heritage Building in the Christchurch CBD…. part 188

Humm…..  I wonder…

James Lunday.   Urban Designer and Economic Development Entrepreneur. Link Here: http://www.la3.com.au/our-network-our-people/australia-office/2-uncategorised/138-australia-james-lunday.html

James Lundy also features in the Gerard Smyth’s Christchurch Dilemmas Series. Link Here: http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/201811229/gerard-smyth-christchurch-dilemmas

also here: http://chchdilemmas.co.nz

James Lunday has been employed now by Regenerate Christchurch.   Huh?   How the heck did that come about?  Are we talking about the man who has consistently been telling CERA/CCDU/REGENERATE CHRISTCHURCH  ETC  (whatever they are called now)  for the last 6 years that they have this Recovery all wrong?  The man who told them in 2011 at a meeting I attended said to “tell CERA to ……. off,”  that: they were demolishing too many buildings, that the “Precincts plans” were fatally flawed, that the Convention Centre is the wrong design in the wrong place and do we need one anyway?

Nah, this can not be.

They are 2 possibilities:
1.  The Powers that be have finally realised that they need some expert advice.   
2.  They want to shut him up.  He has been too vocal in his criticism.  

I hope that it is option 1.  (My understanding is that Otakaro has clearly told the Christchurch City Council that they will not renegotiate or alter the Blueprint design that they have created).

Gosh, I am so cynical!

The delicious irony of this is that Regenerate Christchurch, has moved into the new Peeble’s Consortium building right behind the Duncan’s Buildings on High Street.

The beauty of this is that every time they look out the window they will see this!  A daily reminder that they have got this recovery all Wrong! 

What’s the old saying…. revenge is a dish best served cold.p1000413

What is new in High Street?

  • We are still stalled by our Engineer and the lack of a PS1 for the CCC Building consent.  It is driving me to distraction.
  • The propping of the 8 Duncan’s Units that the Peeble’s group have purchased, will happen in Feb/March next year.
  • The road works are still stopping us from opening our pop up shop.  The contractors just never seem to Finish anything.
  • I have heard that the Peeble’s  Group wish to demolish the backs of the Duncan’s Buildings.  Given that Resource Consents gave me a hard time,  a few weeks ago, when they Thought that I was going to disturb/demolish our back brick wall,  I wonder if this is feasible???

Ho hum, life gets interesting…..

PS  Pix of 4 weeks progress on my house!

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

So whats new in High Street?  Update……

  • Sanity has prevailed and peace has broken out between  Gough/Carter/Issacs/Bridges et al and The Peebles group. This was in reality a stoush about tenants.     Links here:
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/83924370/christchurch-developers-drop-court-action-over-mckenzie-and-willis-development
    and here:
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/83944438/editorial-settling-of-high-st-project-stoush-a-positive-move-for-central-christchurch
  • The road works occurring on our side of the city are being done in a hap-hazard manner.  There appears to be no attempt being made to stagger the repairs.  At the moment ALL of the south side of the CBD is a shambles.  For some reason known only to themselves, the CCC has allowed every street to be simultaneously dug up.  It creates ongoing disruption that never seems to end  and much of it could have been staggered over a longer period of time.
    This is a hopeless situation for any retailer trying to trade.  It is causing considerable frustration.  We could not access our building at all a few days ago, it was a real pain as I had heaps of parcels to cart back and forth.  Oh well.  SNAFU…..
  • I note that in Madras St near the Ng building , the street is still cordoned off by road cones.  Madras St is a major thoroughfare North.  CERA began to demolish a building there in 2011? and found out much to their surprise that it had a party-wall….   dur…..No attempt appears to have been made to resolve the issue.  So the road cones have remained in place for 6 YEARS . Surely we can do better than this.
  • We are still battling with our Amended Building Consent, the Engineer is holding it up, he is slow and over worked. Our Resource Consent Application has been approved, subject to some conditions –  ( that’s $2500 please…..)  and now  we have an Application for Emergency Authority (Historic Places Act) Order 2011, which was approved a few days ago, ye ha!  ( all for the 20sqm replacement/rebuild of a toilet block).  This last application is just in case we find heritage treasures under our old toilet block.

“This emergency authority has been created to carry out earthworks near archaeological sites to redevelop sites affected by the Canterbury earthquake and its aftershocks. The aim of creating an emergency authority is to streamline and simplify the authority process to undertake such work in accordance with the purposes of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011.”  It comes with a couple of pages of conditions which I won’t bore you with.  Heaven help you if you find anything.  It will cost a fortune and hold you up for weeks. The most likely find is some old crockery and a few roof tiles.

 

  • There was an excellent comment by Johnny Moore last week: ““God help you if you’re a small business owner or somebody who wants to invest and live in the city – this isn’t the rebuild for you. If the Government doesn’t scuttle your plans you can be sure the City Council will, because at the moment all of the support goes to the big players and the little guys who create the complexity that makes great cities are being shut down and eradicated by overzealous authorities one lot at a time”. Link here:http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/84288413/johnny-moore-reports-of-christchurchs-previous-death-greatly-exaggerated

    Odd spot:   We had a Dutch cousin in Amsterdam ask the other day about how we were getting on.  We found ourselves “fudging the truth”.  This is not uncommon for those of us in Christchurch facing ongoing issues.

    How can I tell you that I still do not have a house after 6 years?
    How can I tell you that we are going to close our business down after 50 plus years?
    How can I tell you that we are all unemployed?
    How can I tell you that our building in High Street is still not finished?
    How can I explain about the many cases of PTSD in the city?

    I will stop now before your eyes glaze over, we do not blame you for not understanding.  Because we know that is what is happening.  As well-meaning as you are,  you do not really want to know about our problems, so we will say: that “we are making slow progress” we will smile and leave it at that. Thanks for asking.

    I note that straight after I wrote this I saw a similar comment by Garry Moore.

    Link Here: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11719369      “Travels and what people ask:
     
    I have been travelling a bit lately undertaking a project for Community Housing Aotearoa. We are talking to all of the political parties and analysing their policies on housing. It’s a fascinating exercise and I will write about this sometime in the future. However what I want to talk about is how people in the North Island, quite sincerely, often ask me how we are getting on now that the earthquakes have stopped. They ask what’s it like now that the city is rebuilt?
     
    It’s hard to answer without sounding a moaner. I mumble that it’s slowly coming right. Most people can’t believe that our family still lives in a house which our insurance company is fighting us over. They think it’s all sorted out. I smile nicely and say no it’s not, for us, and many thousands of other people”.

    sad and true….

How not to rebuild a Heritage Building in the Christchurch CBD….. apply for Building Consent/Resource Consent…

Hell’s teeth, there must be a better way of finishing this damn building.  My advice to any Heritage Building owner in the country is:  Don’t even consider repairing your building. Certainly not under the conditions of an emergency repair like we have had to face.  The bureaucracy is endless and getting more expensive by the minute. It is not worth it.  Either pull it down or walk away. (There do not appear to be any penalties for walking away, as has been clearly shown in Christchurch).

We are finally on the last leg of a very slow and long process.  The rebuild of a toilet block. 18sq metres.  Last week I applied for an Amended Building Consent to demolish/rebuild our very old not too flash “lean-to” toilet block.

It is a 1930’s – 1940’s classic New Zealand lean-to.  (Think third world). We suspect it was built by the apprentices of the Butcher who previously owned the building (Franklin).

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Off to one side of this very attractive structure is a very old toilet.  I will not embarrass ourselves by showing you the photo.

Anyway,  not only do you have to apply for an amended building consent to build a new toilet block, you get to be really lucky if you own a “rare” Heritage Building in Christchurch, (and I can safely say that, as CERA pulled them all down, there are not many left)   you also have to apply for a Resource Consent.  (To prove that you are not destroying precious history.   She says with a smirk on her face).

So……

I have just been issued with a Section 37.  Well,  I suppose that is a change from the Section 38 that CERA gave us in 2011.  ( A section 38 is “Make safe” issued by the Government).

When I had finished laughing about the Section 37, I see that it is a DO NOT Demolish or proceed with any building work.   The irony, with the Section 37, is that it comes with an expensive price tag of a minimum of $1200 for a non notified resource consent and up to $7500 for a notified consent. I have yet to figure out which one the powers that be will charge me.  Note:  received a preliminary Invoice today 25/8/16 of $2500 (5% of the total build cost of this toilet block)  This is as close to extortion as you can get.  Note to self:  I should not have propped it up and I should have demolished it earlier like every other building owner in the city did.

Section 37: Chapter 9 Natural and Cultural Heritage: 9.3 Historic Heritage: Rule – 9.3.3.2.3 Restricted Discretionary Activities – Heritage Items and Heritage Settings – High Significance (Group 1) and Significant (Group 2)
The proposed works for the demolition and construction of an addition are within the heritage setting for the Duncan Buildings a listed significant Building (Group 2) and these works will require consideration as a discretionary activity.

So which one do I obey? The original Section 38 to make the area safe or the new Section 37 to NOT make the area safe.  Hope someone makes up their mind soon before the structure falls down.  In fact, if I undo that prop on the back wall I won’t have a problem will I ??   tempting..   One more shake should do it for me…..

The sad thing about all this is that they are chucking all the hurdles they can in our way, while the rest of the absentee owners surrounding us have walked away and abandoned their properties.  In 6 years neither CERA/CCDU/Otakaro/CCC  have made any attempts to deal with this issue.

The Law really is an ass.

Crazy city, totally messed up.

p.s. have a look at this video clip about:

Christchurch Dilemmas: How to rebuild the city’s heart video

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/83394208/christchurch-dilemmas-how-to-rebuild-the-citys-heart

I was at a meeting where James Lunday spoke in 2011,  he basically said then that they were stuffing the city up by pulling everything down. How right he was. He also told CERA to naff off in no uncertain terms. (sanitized version)  (It was a pleasure to watch then and still brings a grin to my face now 6 years later).

“Urban designer James Lunday visited the red-zoned central city immediately after the earthquakes in 2011 and has been returning to Christchurch in the years since. He sees the rebuild as a huge opportunity for the city.”

He also comments that “We’re still building a 20th century city – built for the car, wide streets, and no activity.” 

He is so right!

PPS:  It is flaming near impossible to get into High Street at the moment, it is a shame that we were hoping to open up our pop up shop in the first week of september.  FultonHogan/CCC are yet to give me an expected finish date.  Do not hold your breath…..

 

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Note: The reappearance of the historic tram tracks.  Do you reckon they got a Resource Consent to take them out????  I doubt it.