How not to Repair a Heritage Building in the Christchurch CBD…..

Well now, that was a surprise!!

  •  Now 855 days since designated “South frame, Innovation Precinct”  ( ie They can take the building any time between now and 2022)  They will as of the end of the month drop the designation on our building!!!! I have not seen this in writing yet!

CCDU has lifted the designation on our building.   As of the end of the month we no longer have a compulsory acquisition order over our property.  Unfortunately many others at the meeting I attended were not so lucky.  Any one who is in the path of their “aspirational” lane ways path is still blighted with the designations and their properties/parts of properties,  likely to be purchased over the next 9 months. The beleaguered Innovation Precinct will be the first to get this treatment.  (It is the easiest one for them to start on as the land has been clear felled anyway!)  “Shortly you will receive in the post, a copy of the South Frame addendum. Read the  South Frame addendum PDF 1.66MB, 28 pages

So how did this come about???

I had been invited a few days earlier to another of the CCDU meetings for the South Frame. “Christchurch Central Development Unit invites you to attend a presentation on the vision for the South Frame, incorporating an update on the new planning rules”.

As usual with these meetings I reluctantly agreed to go. They have a history of being dead useless.  The staff are usually totally unprepared/unable/unwilling to give single syllable answers to questions.  ie yes/no.

I am afraid this meeting was no different.  I am afraid I have to accept that the CCDU are totally out of their depth and incoherent.

They have finally come up with a “Concept plan” of the South frame.  Oh my, were the building owners angry, the feelings of ire in the room was palatable.  There was a feeling of derision at a badly thought out plan.  It has taken the building owners a long time to get annoyed and I think this meeting may be a turning point. It was a pleasure to watch. The building owners have lacked a focus and have allowed themselves to be bullied and pushed around.  It is time they joined forces.

As is usual with the CCDU, there were few details given, no questions asked were given a “straight answer”.  The staff appeared uncomfortable and evasive.

The meeting was interesting:

  • There was bad feeling about the sales that CCDU have already made of land that has already been “purchased”.  In my conversations with the building owners later, the same comments were repeated over and over.  “They have not got a clue”, they “have no business experience”, they “think that we will hang around that long waiting for them”,  it is “unaffordable”,  “the city is stuffed”, very “aspirational and totally impractical”, you get the picture.
  • A comment was made that CCDU should have been assisting building owners to facilitate repair/rebuild.
  • Complaints that CCDU was taking land off private land owners but not the Hospital Board for its laneways project.
  • Comments regarding the price of retail/office space at $500 per square metre being unaffordable.
  • The plans shown to us were not consistent and way too small to discern detail.
  • Miniscule, poorly defined and next to useless plans.

    Miniscule, poorly defined and next to useless plans.

  • they were trying to avoid paying compensation.
  • existing user rights continue for those of us who have remained in place.
  • Office size provisions increased to 500 sq metres.
  • Deferral of the development regulation in force in the Innovation Precinct to be removed.
  • I was almost left with the feeling that the building owners were baiting the CCDU.

Building owners were told that they were going to have a 10m wide “greenway” lane way pushed through their properties. The new lane ways plans literally cuts buildings in half! ie half a building on each side of the laneway! They have “sliced and diced” the south frame like a piece of cake. thus down grading its value.  (And we are not supposed to build a block wall around the sides of the laneway… as it must be pretty and green!)

The amazing part of this is that the south frame is the only frame in the city that is actually working as it is. And making some money for the city. Most of the big car sales franchises in the city are in this area. And they want to stuff it!   There has to be a better way of dealing with this issue than the plan they have come up with.

I was hoping that they might finally be able to give me an answer regarding the fate of the back of our building.  But hello….  this is a draft concept plan only.  They have not even started on the plan yet!  They do not know which bits of land they are going to acquire.  They can not tell us what is happening.  My god, 4 years we have waited…… and they still can not get their act together.  The building owners tried to get a time frame out of them.  The best we got was that the plans might be ready in late 2015   and it might take 3-5 years to implement.  And they are in charge of recovery in the city?  Does the National Government really not know what is happening here?  Have they not looked at the figures coming out of the city regarding trade and retail.  Oh yes I forgot we are doing well…..  that’s why there are for lease signs all over the city, building owners can not find tenants and the whole city looks like Stalingrad.

This lot has got to go.

The irony of this meeting is that The Christchurch City Council was not invited to attend, until their hand was forced.   And they say that CCDU is working together with the CCC????  For heavens sake hand control over to the CCC, they will do a better job, in half the time and it will be at least get the city up and running again.  This nonsense has to stop.

They need to make some DECISIONS!!!!

Ho Hummn,  I suppose its progress, of a sort????

PS  Ohh! We are popular are we not.-   I see that the plans for the Mckenzie and Willis site have been released.

This is great news.  Rumour has it that the Billens site will also begin the process of being tided up in the new year and the site sold……


Limbo on High- after 998 days…….

Locked out of undamaged factory for 998 days – (since Feb 2011)

Do we still own our building????    Now 471 days since designated “South frame, Innovation Precinct” – only 1356 days to go before we get told if we are going to be compulsorily acquired by CCDU.

I did have to chuckle when I saw Roger Sutton say that “Quake repairs ‘not fast enough’  Link here:

He was mainly referring to residential repairs.  He is correct of course.  There would be very few residents on the east side of Christchurch who have not had an abysmal experience with EQC and their insurance companies. The lack of action by Government in sorting out the Insurance Industry and EQC is shameful.

Closer to home for me is the lack of progress on the Port Hills claims, it is an example that should never be repeated in New Zealand.

Roger Sutton also: “denied claims from MPs that Cera had a culture of knocking down buildings that didn’t fit the city’s blueprint.  

Hello?????   Calendar Girls building, Westend Building, Bicycle Thief to name a few. In the East frame,  NG building and Cassell’s are still threatened. And many others were pulled down before the blue print was released.  Very convenient for CERA.

Than we get: “Many buildings throughout Christchurch might appear solid enough, but the costs of rebuilding them did not stack up, he said.”

Humm: this hoary old chestnut,  they seem to think that if they repeat this often enough we will believe them.  The figures in many cases stack up.  Repair is cheaper. The costs of building foundations now make this comment even more relevant. (This is not so in all cases of course.)  In many cases buildings were pulled down before comprehensive assessments were done. In some cases before the owners were even informed.  “Make safe procedures” were also “performed” on many buildings, they were poorly thought out and in some cases far exceeded what was necessary.

Finally! yeah ha!

as of this morning,  Cunliffe breaks his self-imposed silence on the Christchurch situation: The headline?  Cunliffe’s recovery criticism ‘ridiculous’. 

(Funny is it not that Brownlee always attacks anyone that makes a negative comment about the situation in Christchurch. Typical of the bullying tactics that have been used by the Insurance companies, EQC, CERA, CCDU and others.)

Link here:

There is obviously a by-election coming in Christchurch!  But the silence of the opposition parties has been disturbing me for 3 years.  He remarked:

“I’m putting the Government on notice. I will be asking a hell of a lot of questions about the Christchurch recovery.”

I hope he keeps his word.  Three years is too long to wait.

“You have a minister who has the power of God, who is a human wrecking ball cutting a swathe through the centre of the city.”

“He was visibly gobsmacked when he looked at the central business district and could see little progress three years after the earthquakes first struck the city.” 

Gosh he must have come and looked at High Street.  Our own personal Limbo land”   trapped in a 3-year-old time warp, by CERA/CCDU and Building owner apathy.

I am thinking of renaming our block ” Limbo on High Street”.

Hows Progress on the building?

I am currently busy painting the ceiling in the toilet block. What fun!

In the weekend we are planning to sort out some frontage issues.

Overall? Stalled by:

  • the plaster not turning up
  • the builder not turning up
  • a lack of scaffolding for the plasterer. ( Out of stock!)
  • the lack of Engineering sign off
  • the lack of amended building consent
  • the lack of certainity on the fate of the “Innovation Precinct”

status normal!  Christchurch is stuffed.

ho humm

CCDU restructure in the wind???

A very interesting article in the latest Business South article by Chris Hutching: Property Council welcomes restructure:  (turn to page 2.)  Link Here:

In particular the statement from Connal Townsend, CEO NZ Property Council that “the CCDU model has been a failure”. The article reports that CCDU is going to detail changes August 1.

The Property Council chief executive, Connal Townsend, says “the CCDU model has been a failure, with too much emphasis on seeking big offshore investors. Instead, it should tap local investment and local expertise about what kinds of tenants will be appropriate.”

Connal Townsend also comments that “landlords whose properties are not purchased by the government are hamstrung by rules requiring them to obtain health-type tenants in the health precinct.”

Have a read, it is interesting that finally someone is talking about the failed model that they have created here.  As well as the costs per square metre of the rentals.  In the Old city “$300/sqm was normal. New buildings would dictate more than $400/sqm and in hot hospitality areas at least $850/sqm.”  There are very few businesses that can sustain rentals in this range.

Nice article by Chris Hutchings.  Good to see some good analysis finally being done.  Just in case the link fails I have popped it below.

That is why we have been going on about the city being a donut.  Boring I know It will be  hollow in the centre.  (This has already happened.)

I am not quite sure what they mean by “CCDU Restructure”, that seems too much to hope for.  Personally I think they should be restructured out of existence!

I am afraid it will take more than a few new managers to change the mindset at the CCDU.

Ho humm a beautiful foggy day.

property council

South frame Innovation Precinct….. and weasel words….

I read an interesting article in the Sunday Star Times 24 June 2013 by Rob O’Neill, it refered to weasel words.  Being in the South Frame of the Innovation Precinct, this rather resonated with me.

Link Here:

“An informal term for equivocating words and phrases aimed at creating an impression that something specific and meaningful has been said, when in fact only a vague or ambiguous claim, or even a refutation has been communicated.”- Wikipedia

“innovation” is rapidly becoming a business weasel word, a word dropped into formulaic sentences in management meetings and investor presentations alongside “going forward”, “sustainable”, “strategy” and many others.

The paper work I get about the Innovation Precinct is full of weasel words.

You may Remember a few weeks ago – 30 May 2013, I tried to engage with the “powers that be” ie anything that starts with CERA/CCDU/MBIE/CCC (Its a form of alphabet soup really.)

The original email I wrote was rather short, to the point and somewhat annoyed!  As usual.  Link here:

Well after a deafening silence my inbox has been buried in responses.  humm,one does wonder does one not.

The first letter arrived dated the 17th of June 2013. “Innovation Precinct Update.”  That made me laugh. Update???  that implies prior communications.  Drat must have missed that.  As far as I am aware this is the first contact in 2 and a half years.

hs1hs2Gee I love this stuff.. “spatial framework,” “new opportunities,” “we would like to involve you” ho humm.

Oh well at least they are suggesting that they may talk to us which is a change. Personally I suspect that it will be pretty token stuff.

This letter was followed a few days later with a letter from the big man himself Roger Sutton.

1383 Arts letterThank you for your patience.  Stop annoying us please.

This was closely followed by a phone call no less, from The Property Group Ltd.  (they are the ones offering crazy low ball offers for the land you own!) To encourage us to attend the meeting.  A one on one meeting  with CERA, the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment, Canterbury Development Corporation and the Architectus Team. ( Gee I count 4 organisations)

I will keep you posted about the outcome of said meeting. I am watching with some interest.

On a more interesting note: We start gibbing the ceiling upstairs today. So that is some progress at least.

And in a few weeks we are going to open the factory up to the public.  We are going to create a “pop up shop” in the factory.  That should be interesting.

ho humm, the sun is trying to shine and every day above ground is a good day.

Canterbury Development Corporation…. ha ha

Thought I would be pro active, on this day, one year after the 22nd February 2011 Earthquake and see if they had anything useful to say,  lol, what a joke.

Our infamy has obviously preceded us.  The sum total of useful suggestions was ” I will send you a form to fill out to apply for a Red Cross grant of $750 for legal fees”.

Humm lacks imagination I would say.  After the Kobe 1995 earthquake in Japan, the areas that were the most vocal and annoying were the last areas to recover or be redeveloped.

Mind you given the fact that last time they told me “to wait until we were out of the Red Zone” at least they are consistently awful and unhelpful.

Seems to be a Pattern developing here!

By the way in the last 2 months we have managed to get one days work done.  The Steel company we use, is being “slow” and their men don’t want to work in the Red Zone.  I think that this is an interesting trend.  Also brick layers are hard to find.

I estimate another 6 months before we are in any shape too open, looking at the snail’s pace the rebuilding is going at.

CERA has admitted that it is unlikely to meet its April target of opening the city centre. No surprises here.  Looking at the High Street block I estimate that some of the Duncan’s Building- the block we are in will be closed for up to 2 years. It will take them that long to get their earthquake strengthening in place.

ho humm another day in paradise.