How not to repair a Heritage Building in the Christchuch CBD 5 years on…

So, what is new in High Street 5 years on from 22nd February 2010?

4 years progress in High St for CERA/CCDU.

5 years progress in High St for CERA/CCDU.

Not much obviously!

  • There appears to be no progress on the sale of the Duncan’s Building.  I have seen no sign of a tender document.
  • I have spoken to a number of interested buyers but it seems that CERA et al are unable to lift this issue out of the too hard basket. I have also been “told” that CERA et al will not be selling any further properties until the new “Regenerate” entity takes over.  Another delaying tactic. CERA closes down in April sometime, I can not remember if it’s the end of April or early.  The problem for CERA of course is that they paid too much for the buildings.  ( These figures are readily available).  CERA acquisitions in Lower High Street:
    145-151 High St  Oct 13  $636,000       4 units
    153 High St         Aug 13  $430,000       1 unit
    155-157 High St  Aug 13  $760,000       2 units

    Total paid $ 1,826,000
    Estimate of value now after 5 years of neglect:  Land price less demolition.  My guess is half of this price.  There is one insurance settlement to be collected on one unit, but after 3 years that will have devalued by approx 30%.

    So, there are a number of issues here.
    CERA/CCDU probably does no want to show a loss on the sale of these buildings on their books.   (Bad look for the Government)   They also appear incapable of sucking it up and doing a deal with a developer, along the lines of “you do the work and once they are tenanted you will pay xyz….”.  ie Stagger the payments. This would be normal practice in the commercial world.  They basically appear to be incapable of Making a decision.  Governments should not be in the business of real estate.

    c’est la vie…..

  • I see in the Press today, in a very good summary of the rebuild  “Have the anchor projects anchored Christchurch’s central city?”  by GEORGINA STYLIANOU, that 2 more properties belonging to the Christchurch Heritage Trust are under contract.  That will be the Billen’s site in the lower block and the Excelsior Hotel site on the corner of High Street & Manchester Street.  Good news for the street. Link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/christchurch-life/76090113/have-the-anchor-projects-anchored-christchurchs-central-city
    Billens site.

    Billens site on the left.

    January 2016.  Just the frontage is left.  It is to be demolished and rebuilt as a "look alike".

    Excelisor Hotel. January 2016. Just the frontage is left. It is to be demolished and rebuilt as a “look alike”.

  • Security is still an ongoing issue in the street.  The police arrested 2 young men breaking into a neighbouring unit last week.
    We, again, had to board up the frontage. (The land owner has been conspicuous by her absence for the last 5 years).  A name and shame list is needed in the city, either front up or get out.
  • The wee shake last week was an unpleasant reminder, that it’s not over till it’s over.  30 more years some cheerful soul told me a few days ago.  It has interrupted our works programme as we had to rake and plaster some gib, that had just been under-coated in preparation for final painting.  Next time we will batten the gib,  I see no point in endless plastering/repainting.  Seems to me that Gib is not the product to use in Christchurch, I am going to start investigating alternatives.
  • Work has restarted on the fit out off 2 of the Duncan’s Units at the other end of our row.  Great to see.
  • The work on the McKenzie and Willis site is racing ahead.  I think its due to be completed in September.
  • Both the Vodafone and Katmandu buildings are close to being finished, I have not seen a recent ETA on these.
  • Otherwise all is quiet and boring.  We can see no point at his stage in attempting to open our retail area.  That would be retail suicide.

ho humm,  5 years on not much has changed.  Talk about depressing.  Retirement is looming I feel it in my bones.  I think I will move out of the city.  Some where, where there are no quakes, floods, fires, plagues of locusts/rats, government agencies, CERA/CCDU/REGENERATE/CCC/SOUTHERN RESPONSE etc….  and so the list goes on.

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How not to repair a heritage building in Christchurch CBD part 172

So What is new in High Street?

  • Well Rangiora’s High Street is moving forward with its re-development.  Lucky them. http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/north-canterbury/75734380/rangioras-high-street-developments-taking-shape
  • There is noticeable progress on the rebuild on the Mckenzie & Willis site, behind us. I believe this is due to be finished in March 2016.  The Vodafone and Kathmandu buildings in Tuam Street are also close to completion.

    P1000865

    McKenzie & Willis build proceeds rapidly.

  • CERA/CCDU/Regenerate appear to have made no progress on the sale off the  7 Duncan’s Units that they own.  It is still unclear what their intentions are.
  • There has been a vigorous debate raging on the Press Web site about the new bus lanes to be built on St Asaph Street, the main concerns for the retailers is the loss of 120 car parks on St Asaph Street. It is a cyclist vs Business argument.  Neither side is very tolerant of the others concerns. Personally I am disappointed with the cycle lane it only runs 4-5 blocks and ends in space.  Link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/74689538/tension-as-car-parks-make-way-for-cycleways-in-central-christchurch
  • There have been fluro clad contractors wandering along High street doing measurements for the new tram tracks. The irony is that they will not be able to lay said tracks until the 7 Duncan’s units are sorted out.  That is going to be like watching paint dry.
  • I have had to ring the cops again last week to get some creeps off my deck and roof. And at 10.50 pm last night some low life smashed our plate glass window.  That required emergency measures to seal up the hole. A quick late night re arrange of the red zone fencing was required.  Damn stuff finally came in useful after 5 years.
    P1000864

    A smashed window. Security in the CBD is an on going nightmare.

    The larger issue here is that at night there are young men (mainly) roaming aimlessly in the central city.  Too many empty buildings, open spaces and bars are not a good mix.   There appears to be a total lack of a police presence. And CERA’s red zone High Street fencing has more hole in it than a Swiss cheese.  They are not protecting the 7 units that they own and have abdicated from ALL their responsibilities for the security of their property.  They are not a great example for the rest of the city.

  • The City Council is trying to deal with the long term parking issue in High Street by reinstating some meters that have been trapped in the red zone fencing for 5 years.  This is helpful!
  • The floor is finished and the painters start painting our retail area tomorrow.  Then we require the electrician.  ( And the window man!)

Some General observations. The reality of trying to run a business in the Christchurch CBD.

  • There is re-building occurring in small isolated pockets across the city.
    The pockets of retail are so dispersed that there are no groupings of like minded retailers with similar products.
  • It is not easy to get from one pocket to the other and no incentive to do so.
  • The retailers left in the city, (apart from the Cashel container mall) are in the main, retailers who have managed to remain in place after the earthquakes. ie those whose buildings did not suffer major damage.  They are few in number.
  • There appears to be no plan.  Certainly no time scale or concerted efforts to co-ordinate appear to be in place.  There is no information, advice or direction available. (Many retailers are reluctant to return to the CBD until some certainty returns).
  • There are so many bars in the city that I can not see how they are sustainable.  They are busy on Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights.  The increase in bar and cafe numbers appears unsustainable.  The central city is at night “awash with vomit and drunk young people”.
  • The endless road cones and slow road repairs/alterations.   This is hindering access to the retailers attempting to trade. Finding a park is becoming increasingly difficult.  The new layouts being designed by CERA/CCDU will also remove many of the parks in the central city. It means that our customers can not get to us let alone park within walking distance. (Simple example, St Asaph Street under the latest “proposal” will lose 109 parks).
  • The parking buildings have not been rebuilt.
  • The foot paths in many area are a hazard to walkers. The elderly are in serious danger of falling over rubble.  (I will also confess to coming unstuck in a pot hole).
  • Lack of progress by CERA/CCDU to actually finish any projects.  The Justice precinct is being built and the bus depot is more or less finished. The Margaret Mahy park is now open. Other than that I can not think of a single project that CERA/CCDU has actually finished.
  • Lack of resolution of the Christchurch Cathedral issue.   The lack of progress or a decision regarding the iconic Cathedral is stalling development around the square.  Again causing a lack of confidence.

Conclusion: no one is lobbying for the Central City.  The opposition, Labour, The Greens and NZ First are invisible.

Ho hum…  another day spent sorting out CERA’s security issues.

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.

P1000413

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 the Christchurch CBD

So whats new in High Street?

  • Some concept pictures are available of the new Mckenzie & Willis site: link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/74224313/new-peek-at-christchurch-heritage-project
    I look forward to seeing the finished buildings.  (Although I am living next door in a dust bowl as the dust blowing from the site is driving me insane, (there appears to be no “watering” of the area occurring).
  • The “CCC” has decided on the layout for the High/St Asaph/Madras Street intersection.  As is usual with any consultation that we under go in the city we were kept out of the loop and not given full and frank information prior to the consultation. I am damn sure that if my name was Carter, Ballantyne or Gough we would get more consideration.
    In this case we were not told that the tram terminus was to be located at the end of our street.  There was no indication in any of the plans that we were supplied with to comment on, that the tram would be pushed down this end of the street. Now that’s consultation!  With the most important information missing from the “consultation documents”.

Contrary to all the rules of retail, CCDU et al have decided to make access to High street much more restricted. The late architect Ian Athfield always said that one of the major needs for retailers was access and the ability for vehicles “to go around the block” if they were looking for a car park.  The idiots in power have now in their infinite wisdom taken this away from lower High Street.
This further restriction to traffic by locking off both the historic east link to Ferry Road and the west link to St Asaph Street, appears to be the beginning of a process to turn us into a pedestrian walk way.

This has been a council aim for the last 30 years. I again point out that turning New Regent St, another small Heritage Street, into a mall HAS NOT been a success.  How many times do you have to repeat the same mistake before you change tack?  (Note there are still 11 boarded up shops in New Regent Street and it is obvious to all that the retailers are struggling).

Below is an excerpt from the letter that I got from the CCC.

“High Street intersection and proposed tram route
Similarly, the proposed prevention of a right turn from High Street to St Asaph Street was criticised by four submitters. They stated that direct access to a one-way street is important for High Street businesses, otherwise customers would have to make a long detour.
The layout of High Street also attracted submissions from the Tramway Historical Society and Christchurch Tramway Ltd which noted that the proposals did not incorporate plans to extend the Stage 1B Route linking Lichfield Street, Poplar Lane and Tuam Street.
The project team commented that as a result of An Accessible City and the changes to the one- way street network, the tram route alignment had to be amended from the Council-approved Stage 1B route that included the turnaround on Tuam Street in front of C1 cafe. The simplest route for the tram to return along High Street from Poplar Street, is to bring the tram south along High Street (south of Tuam Street) with a north return along High Street crossing Tuam Street and joining the existing laid track just north of the C1 / Alice building. This change was approved as part of An Accessible City Phase 1 Tuam Street projects.
Following further investigations, prompted by submissions on the tram, the safest place to terminate the tram is in the new public space at the southern end of High Street similar to the arrangement at Strange’s Corner (intersection of High / Lichfield / Manchester), although the two tram lines will connect to provide a single lane tram track into the public space due to space requirements. As there will be pedestrian, cycle, tram and vehicle movements heading north on High Street, re-introducing the right turn, which has been requested through other submissions could lead to safety concerns as there is an additional conflict point being introduced. The recommendation, therefore, is not to re-introduce the right turn from High Street to St Asaph Street”.

  • The old Excelsior Hotel site has been sold, I look forward to the new “look alike”.  This is a great outcome for High Street, as it will keep the Heritage look and create a gate way for the rest of lower High Street.  This has been a difficult decision for the Christchurch Heritage Trust in allowing the demolition of this frontage to proceed.  They have made, in my view, a sensible, pragmatic choice. Link here:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/73751470/heritage-facade-on-old-excelsior-hotel-will-be-lost
  • We are waiting on the “floor guy” they will be here next week to fill the cracks and grind the floor.  The survey of the back toilet block area happens today.  ye ha some progress is in sight!
  • There is still no indications from CCDU about progress on the sale of the remaining 7 units of the Duncans Buildings.  How hard is it to progress this issue?  Do the basic strengthening of the frontages that you said you would do 3 years ago.
  • Ho Humm, still no progress on my “new house”.   Check your Insurance policy folks, it could be you being shafted by a state owned insurance company.  Coming up to the 6 year point now. The lack of protection for the rights of homeowners is appalling.

The sun is shining, it is 27 degrees, its got to be a good day.

How not to repair a Heritage Dunger in Christchurch…. 4 years on.

Today, like so many Christchurch people, I have been reflecting on the last four years. It is a poignant sort of day,  even the sky has been weeping for the 185 deceased and the 400,000 living victims still struggling to recover, many of us still with unresolved Insurance, employment and housing issues.

Today is “Road Cone memorial day”.  The city is bedecked with flowers in every road cone, (and we have thousands of them!) placed by citizens grieving for the deceased, the hurt, the walking wounded, the frustrated, trapped and generally P.. off….  The cones are a symbol of remembrance, sadness and frustration.

 

Christchurch road cone Memorial day.

Christchurch road cone Memorial day.

There is a palpable sense of loss in the city today.  I am watching the tourists wander up and down High Street taking photos. I wonder what they think as they look at the street. High Street is the last area in the city to remain in the same condition as it was on the 22 February 2011. Still behind the Red Zone fencing trapped in a time warp. And it is so easy to fix!  It could so easily be a showcase area of the city.

4 years progress in High St for CERA/CCDU.

4 years progress in High St for CERA/CCDU.

Now 4 years on from the 22nd February 2011 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Christchurch I ask  “What have we achieved”?

Millions of dollars have been spent by the government. (I am not quite sure where all the money has gone).  Almost all the projects that CERA has initiated are either stalled, delayed or on “hold”.

  • “The Avon River Precinct was due to be finished by the end of this year, but the Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) has extended that timeline to mid-2016”.  (Incidentally, I notice that buried in the article on the delayed Avon River project is a comment worth noting: “Landscape architect Di Lucas said the work on the river was substandard, particularly the “in-stream” work that had included substantial use of volcanic rock in what was a soft sedimentary system”.  Whoops!  Link here:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/64820533/Delayed-Avon-River-Precinct-revamp-threatens-tourism
  • The Convention centre: Looks like more like a white elephant every day.  Link Here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/10661310/Convention-centre-might-be-white-elephant
  • Covered Stadium:  Think “Definitely White Elephant”, a permanent $253 million stadium, with a completion date pushed out to 2019.
  • Public Spaces: “construction of public spaces in the south frame between Madras St and Hagley Ave now happening in 2016
  • Delayed:  “the development of recreational and commercial attractions for the Square also rescheduled to finish, six months later than planned, in the third quarter of 2016”. And they still have not made a decision about the Cathedral! The Cathedral is actually in my opinion a “no brainer”. It is the heart and soul of the city.  Get it sorted.  It does not have to be repaired exactly as it was, but elements of the old building need to be retained.  It is repairable!  Look at the roof line, its near perfect.
The Christchurch Cathedral in the square. Why not repair the heart and soul of the city???

The Christchurch Cathedral in the square. Why not repair the heart and soul of the city???

  • Now 4 years down the track, the plans for the south frame have been radically altered.  Link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/65097936/Land-prices-shrink-Christchurchs-south-frame The CCDU has spent $25 million purchasing land for public works in the frame (excluding the innovation and health precincts) but the land designation has been fully, or partially, lifted on 54 per cent of the properties. The final plan for the frame is still to be developed. “It’s been a protracted, frustrating process. We’ve been in negotiations [with the CCDU] for years but we’ve never been offered any money for our sites””.  Many of us have been now told that the designations on our buildings have been lifted.  This may sound like good news, but in the meantime many of the building owners have made plans to relocate or close down.  Now they are being told that this confiscation is not going to happen, or in some cases, only a proportion of the land will be taken.
  •   We have now been told that it will be another 9 months plus in limbo land before we get told the layout of the lane ways that run through the south frame.  (This means that we are still unable to rebuild our toilet block at the back of our building).  This effectively renders our building un tenantable.  Despite being earthquake strengthened and repaired.  At this rate this will mean an un tenantable building for effectively 6 years.  (5 waiting for CCDU to come up with a plan and 1 year to build.)

 So whats new in High Street??? Nothing much.

  • No Amended Building Consent yet….. The CCC is threatening to cancel our Amendment.  Again!  (It will make their figures look better!)
  • Therefore No gib on the ceiling yet…..  This building consent issue is pure insanity. ( I was told by a leading Engineer in the city recently “that I was not alone in my frustration”.  I was told it is a common problem, totally ignored by the powers that be.
  • No lane way plan, another 9 months-1 year to wait before CCDU gets its act together.
  • No parking wardens, yet…. much to our irritation, as long-term parking by the poly students is causing us grief.
  • The near constant smell of sewerage at the back of the Duncan’s Buildings is unpalatable…. say no more!
  • Apparently the street scape plan for High Street is due in 3 years…..
  • No information from CCDU about the fate of the 7 Duncan’s Building units that they own…. No repair strategy in place….
  • Now This:  Roger Sutton resigns. Link Here:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/63292588/Roger-Sutton-resigns-with-regrets   “He may well be proud”….under CERA’s administration, the National government has been responsible for the largest and most rapid social disruption/dislocation of the poorest sections  (East siders) of the population that has every occurred in any city in New Zealand in recent times. The Speed with which this dislocation occurred, the bullying and misinformation that we were given, the unnecessary suffering and pain that was inflicted will remain with these displaced people for many years.  The number of our elderly who died prematurely as a result of this dislocation is a sad indictment of the way this was handled. It was and is still a form of prolonged TORTURE. I personally see nothing that I could be proud of in the way this event has been handled.  And people wonder why we are grumpy???
  • This resignation has been closely followed by that of Warrick Issacs.  Did he jump or was he pushed?  I wonder???   The Press coverage of this Issue was totally unbalanced and Issacs has stated that he: “had found dealing with the heritage issues challenging”. “It’s been the hardest part of my job, having to make those decisions knowing they are not going to please everybody.  Yeah Right that made me choke on my wheatbix.  I might point out that he did not, as far as I know, challenge any of the section 38’s (demolish orders) that were put in front of him.  And he signed off over 1000.  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/65992629/Rebuild-chief-Warwick-Isaacs-quits-for-Stonewood-Homes-role

Now its Minister Brownlee’s turn…… I am waiting……..

  • Victoria Square:  For some mysterious reason the “powers that be” in charge of CCDU has decided to revamp Victoria Square.  Go figure.  Why mess with it at the moment, save the money for something useful.  Sure fix the river bank and do repairs but spend 7 Million?  Why???  The public up roar about the waste of 7 million dollars warms the frozen cockles of my heart.  I just do not get it, can they really not read the mood of the Christchuch people??? Link Here:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/10627083/Victoria-Square-revamp-startles
  • A comment by “darkhorse” on stuff, sums up Christchurch and says it all really.  link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/63769088/Sensitive-meeting-off-limits-to-public   “In the same time that this lot have been trying to fix the city Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin had fought and won the second world war while at the same time transforming all of the major technologies of the day including inventing the jet engines, the computer and the atomic bomb.  Simple difference is that they were leaders with courage and vision where as this lot are just hopeless muddlers..”

SNAFU

I wish I had a $1 for every photo the tourists take of our street, it would pay for the repairs of one unit at least! There are hundreds of tourists coming to our end of High Street every day.  It has become the “show case” area of the city.  All for the wrong reasons.

Limbo land  4 years progress for CERA/CCDU.

Limbo land 4 years progress for CERA/CCDU.

How not to repair a Heritage building in the Christchurch CBD

  • Do we still own our building???? Now 796 days since designated “South frame, Innovation Precinct” – Designation to be in place until 2022. ( ie They can take the building any time between now and 2022)
  • High Street Building amendment details still at the council. Since January 2014. I am trapped between the CCC building consents Department and the Engineer. They are arguing about: “Justify that the new steel members (columns) will not have a detrimental effect on the stability of the party walls in a fire”.  This is plainly idiotic.  Do you want us to strengthen or not??

So whats new in High Street?

The Billens Building and Mckenzie and Willis remain in the same condition as before. Here is a pretty picture of the back.  This is what I look at every day. Cheerful eh?

The Back of McKenzie and Willis and Billens building.

The Back of McKenzie and Willis and Billens building.

So no progress here.

The 7 shops owned by CERA have had nothing done to them for 4 years now.

Here is a pix of the back. I have been told that :“Further design work for the partial and full strengthening options of these properties is required and we are in the process of procuring these services. Following this work a decision will be made on the level of strengthening that will be undertaken.”   Pigs fly!

CERA owns these 7 units, No progress here.

CERA owns these 7 units, No progress here.

I was invited last week, to the opening of the “High Street Transitional Project”   I was happy to attend.  It perhaps should be more correctly labeled the “Upper High Street Transitional Project”.  It was great to see the sheep.  They add a wee bit of humour to a hopeless situation. Link Here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/10541203/Forget-traffic-cones-we-have-sheep-cones

Sheep Road Cones

Sheep Road Cones

It has been suggested that our end of the street could do with some livestock as well, and what better than some “Broken sheep for a broken street?”

Broken sheep for a Broken street!

Broken sheep for a Broken street!

Sheep would be appropriate as we have plenty of fencing to keep them in and no traffic to damage them further, They will not escape as nothing much else has in the last 4 years.

It is an irony that CERA/CCDU/CCC  and all the other “powers that be” are putting so much energy into: water way/river projects, parks, gap filler, sheep cones, planter boxes, sculptures, artworks et al, but at the end of the day every interaction that I have with them leaves me still no better off.  I get no resolution, no answers, no meaningful assistance. Frustrating eh!  Just maybe they do not have a clue about what would really make a difference?

Perhaps we could begin commercial grazing?

Perhaps we could begin commercial grazing?

Onwards!

I have had to do another submission to the CCC over  “part 2” of the roading plans for Manchester and Tuam streets.  This is token consultation, as the CCC is firing the bullets for CCDU,  there was a noticeable lack of information on which to make a judged decision.

No one else in our end of the street bothered to submit anything, as far as I know.  There was not a lot of point they told me.  Still I am trying to keep them “honest.”

I have also been trying to get some information on the “Public Realm Network Plan”.  This interesting document is firmly in the hands of CERA/CCDU at the moment.  I believe that they are under “consultation” over this document.  Their idea of consultation is notional at the best.  As far as I can work out the CCC knows little about it, neither has any business owner in my circle seen it. The reason I want to see said document is because it seriously affects my development options for the rebuild of the rear of our building.  We have waited 4 years now. Why are we waiting…….???  They really do not want businesses to remain in the CBD do they?  Where is their commercial sense????   hello “Ground control to Major Tom is there any one out there” ????

It looks like another case of CERA/CCDU consultation that you have when you are not consulting.

It is probably sitting on Gerry’s desk.  Like all the other Christchurch issues.  He seems incapable of making a rapid decision.  One wonders why he has been given another portfolio (Defence) as well as dealing with Christchurch recovery.  (Than again he is very defensive!)
I spotted this editorial the other day.  Spot on!!    http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/editorials/10531202/Editorial-Gerry-should-focus-on-one-job

Secret Squirrel is alive and well!

Secret Squirrel is alive and well!

On the subject of commercial business in the city. In a conversation with a large building owner I was told that the city has run out of commercial tenants willing to lease premises. The rents/outgoings are too high and the economy here is so depressed that most operators prefer to remain in their garages and back yards rather than step up into high risk rentals in the CBD. Combine this with the fact that many offices and head offices have pulled out of Christchurch. This partially explains why the Cashel street/High street intersection looks like a wasteland on a busy Saturday afternoon – No one is bothering to rebuild as they have no tenants secured for the developments, therefore no funds secured from the banks to rebuild with).

Cashel Street near High Street on a busy saturday.

Cashel Street near High Street on a busy saturday.

The other issues being very carefully not discussed by the “powers that be” here is the continued population loss. Although the figures look okay, with only a 7000 drop, what is happening is that as the 40-50 years olds get their houses fixed and their family issues sorted, they are pulling out of the city.  (This is noticeable amongst my acquaintances). These are people with middle/upper tier management and trade skills. They are gradually pulling out, as people recognise that the situation here is hopeless. They are being replaced by construction workers.

It was sad to see in the ChCh Press an article about the loss to the city of economist Eric Crampton.  His views are pragmatic and sensible. It is a pity CERA did not bring him onto their team and listen to him.  “As a classical liberal, Crampton believes the state’s role in our lives should be as limited as possible”.
He believes that the government’s response to the earthquakes, was an unhappy combination of regulation and deregulation. Damn right he is too.  You only had to be unfortunate enough to be trapped in the CBD red zone to know what hells we were put through. While those building owners 100 metres away,  outside the red zone, did not have to face and endure.

“He has a lot to say about how the post-quake period has been handled”  Read his chapter in the book “Once in a Life Time”.   (Free range Press) It is an eye opener.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/10390141/Outspoken-economist-leaves-ChCh

Ho humm it’s a beautiful day, I am warm for the first time in 3 months, the birds are singing and they have dug a hole for my house foundations.  Some one in their infinite wisdom has decided that we need a 7500 litre storm water tank.  Great! I am going to get a new swimming pool as well! Morons….. This is overkill……

A swimming pool!

A swimming pool!

 

Gerry’s “Old Dungas”…. and Still snagged at Building consents….

I have spent the last few days, (between trying to deal with Insurance issues) reading the first critique of the Disaster in Christchurch.  And I refer to the man-made disaster, not the 14000+ earthquakes.

“Once in a Lifetime: City-building after Disaster in Christchurch” Edited by Barnaby Bennett, James Dann, Emma Johnson and Ryan Reynolds
Foreword by Helen Clark,  Freerange Press, August 2014.. 55 essays, 39 visual essays

“This important book offers the first substantial critique of the Government’s recovery plan for Christchurch, presents alternative approaches to city-building and archives a vital and extraordinary time. “Once in a Lifetime” brings together a range of national and international perspectives on city-building and post-disaster urban recovery.” (Freerange Press)   http://www.projectfreerange.com/product/once-in-a-lifetime/

Collectively it is the best summary of the situation that I have seen.  It does not cover CERA/CCDU in glory.  It clearly points out the flaws in the top down management technique that has been trialled here.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/blogs/where-theres-a-will/10500626/Most-important-earthquake-book-so-far

  • It refers: to the precincts as an “out dated model”, the public as “disillusioned”, the commercial rebuild as occurring “outside the fringes of the CBD” and the proliferation of bars and cafes as the only activities occurring in the CBD.
  • There is a comparison by Dr Suzanne Vallance of Lincoln University, between the disproportionate effect on socio-economically disadvantaged people.  (ie the East siders). As well as a discussion on the reliance on “Token consultation as information” and a discussion on the blue Print, “which rarely work out as intended.”
  • I also noted the comment by Jane smith , a CHCH resident, referring to the culture of secrecy, when referring to the control of access to the city, when referring to the cordon.  “For the latter half of the lock down period much of the land in the CBD was vacant, and access could have been effectively managed through site fences”.  This is an issue that was patently obvious to those of us with passes to the inner city we were bemused by the insistence on the lengthy lock down.
  • A comment by  Dr Jessica Halliday, an Architectural Historian, refers to the “over simplification” of the view that heritage buildings were killers.  This view was promulgated by Minister Brownlee, with his “old dungas” comments.

(Interestingly, I note that this original comment has now been attributed in the CHCH Press, 30 August 2014, in an article by Vicki Anderson, to Helen Trappitt. “a structural Engineer and a share holder at Lewis Bradford Consulting Engineers.”  Mrs Trappitt comments that  “That may have come up from a conversation he had with some of our engineers.”   

Hummn….. perhaps she should have gone back and clarified their comments, and made Mr Brownlee understand a wee bit better what you were referring too???

Onwards!

  • Shamubeel Eaqub comments that  “Government-mandated clusters rarely – if ever-work”.  He also comments on “the length of time it has taken to get things going”.   I found this theme reoccurring repeatedly throughout the book.

The only area I felt the book did not cover, was the actions taken against the building owners in the CBD area, the effects of the lock down on their businesses, the problems they had getting their stock and access to their wares, the difficulties of relocation,   or the way some building owners were coerced into demolishing buildings rather than repair and the lack of assistance to repair.  Both from central government and the Insurance Industry.

It needs another chapter on this issue.  But I would say that!
Some of these issues were touched on by a number of contributors.  Might have to keep that issue for book number 2!.

This is well worth a read, and I am only half way at this stage.

So Hows progress in High Street?

I am still completely frustrated by our building consent amendment issues. I am still trapped between an overworked Engineer and Building Consents.

I am well aware that I am not the only one in the city totally frustrated by the process. Link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/10440904/Consents-nightmare-holding-up-rebuild

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the Consents process is holding up progress in the central city.  CERA/CCDU, for all their might, seem unable and unwilling to address the issues.  They were very quick to demolish the buildings but since than have completely walked away from any issues the remaining building owners have.  Giving the new crown manager $2000 a day has not helped the situation one bit.  (Only cost the city a mere $10 million)

There is an intrinsic problem with the consents process.  I do not even pretend to understand all the issues, but it seems to me that the building consent departments are being hampered by government legislation. They require a mysterious process that requires that they tick certain boxes. The irony is that than the Consulting Engineer signs a Producer Statement taking full responsibility for the buildings, (than Consents charge you heaps and send you a bill.)  Why the duplication of procedures if the Engineers are taking full responsibility anyway???   I do not get it. There is no attempt being made to deal with these issues.

Other than that there has been no progress, the street looks like a bomb site, the Mckenzie and Willis and Billens buildings are still standing in their derelict glory.

On the subject of CERA/CCDU.  Anyone notice the complete silence???  They are desperate to keep their heads down prior to the elections. I would like to see a Christchurch revolution.  Marching in the street French style. The treatment of the city’s population by the Insurance companies, EQC, building companies etc has been appalling.  It is now nearly 4 years on and we are still living in “war like conditions” in cold broken houses, with broken roads and services.  Do you know that to go and buy a new pair of jeans I have to drive to the other side of the city?  There are no shops, services or amenities.  (Heaven help you if you need to find a public toilet!)  The only activity that is happening in the central city is alcohol fueled mayhem.

On the subject of my new house. “Southern No Response”  It’s still a hole in the ground after 7 months. They started to dig the site out and put in a small retaining wall, pre-foundations, they have stuffed up and now ripped part of it out. Now in the process of re-doing the wall.  Hummn?   This does not inspire confidence.  I am not enjoying living in my cold flat at all!

ho humm, off to send another email to the Insurance company!