How many Bars and Cafes do we need?

How many bars and cafes does the Christchurch CBD need?  The short answer is not as many as it has.

I see that Liz McDonald from The Press has written a few articles and begun to discuss the issue.  The experienced operators in the city have been discussing this issue for 3-4 years.  I was advised years ago, not be in too much of a hurry to take a bar or cafe as a tenant in our building.  Many of them are in serious trouble…  Lack of foot traffic, lack of parking, lack of night life in the CBD, lack of residents…. the list is endless.

One has to wonder why the CCC is continuing to issue Liquor licences to all these bars and cafes? ….

I can find no answers or comments from CCC, Otakaro or Regenerate CHCH about this issue.  Surely they are not blind???  humm I may be wrong about that. This is an issue that has been brewing (whoops sorry) for 4-5 years….

I have some simple questions. How long is this situation going to last?, when will some life come back to the CBD?, what is the CCC et al doing to help and encourage other retailers?  (Personal experience would tell me that the answer to this question is “zero”, zlich, nada”.

Links here…http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/88396293/does-christchurch-have-too-many-bars-and-restaurants

Followed by:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/88246094/Christchurch-nightlife-is-the-party-over

Followed by, surprise, surprise…

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/88494124/canterbury-rebuild-plateau-knocks-business-confidence-to-fouryear-low

Every one knows that:

  • the tourists are by passing Christchurch, ask any Taxi Driver he/she will tell you..
  • the new roading layouts are impossible- Tuam Street, St AsaphStreet, Madras Streets are a poorly designed mess….the lack of parking is legendary,  the carriage ways are too narrow, the parking limited, the concrete berms are obtrusive and over all the design is c…..(as is the lack of policing for the parking that we do have).   This issue is not going to go away soon, there is a bubbling undercurrent of discontent amoungst the remaining retailers in St Asaph Street, It needs to be addressed urgently by the powers that be, they need to admit that the new roading layout has some major flaws.  And was impossed upon us with no consultation !  As usual.
  • The CBD empties out at 5.00pm  and is deserted after hours.
  • The much touted residential development promised by the “powers that be” looks like they will be overpriced dog boxes… and not come to fruition for years.

Ho Hummm another warm day in a totally dysfunctional CBD.

 

PS Bruce has a very interesting comment to make about the reason for so many bars and cafes in the CBD.  I have added it here as it is pertinent.

“The bars returned largely because the former CBD is the ONLY place they can get extended trading hours (beyond 1am) with any future certainty. They had no choice, even though many could see that they were moving back into a wasteland, and were reluctant to do so, but they had to make a living.
It’s the one particular business that did NOT move back that is interesting; the brothels. Like the bar-owners, they could see that the CBD was to be avoided, but they had a choice. Deregulation of their industry had allowed their patrons and workplaces to disperse into the suburbs, and that is where they went and where they have stayed. To the best of my knowledge not a single brothel has moved back into the CBD”.

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.

How not to repair a Heritage building in the Christchurch CBD Part 173

Well here we are, 5 years on since the February 2011 earthquake that decimated Christchurch.  On Monday there will be tears shed, politicians will say soothing words and the verbosity will flow.  (I notice this morning that we have lots of feel good articles in the Press about how well we are all doing and what great achievements have been made, how the city is moving forward and we are nearly half way there.  Wherever there is???? I will talk about High Street in a later post).

All very nice and good.  But behind the scenes there is another story.  The one that no one likes to talk about. This is about those of us still stuck in Insurance hell.

Tomorrow at 12 noon in the Christchurch Square a protest is occurring.  I will be there.

10400452_10204402822505480_7860771413264718807_n-1

So whats this about???  This is the back story about those of us stuck in “insurance limbo land”.  Some say that its all our own fault that we are in this situation,  ie we have not accepted insurance company offers, we are greedy, we think that our houses were worth more etc.  In most cases this is not true.  It is due to the stalling tactics being practiced by the insurance companies, it is about poor repair strategies being imposed on home owners by insurance companies, it is about poor workmanship by contractors, it is about multiple assessments by untrained assessors. The list of variables is endless.

It’s About Deny Delay Defend.  The tactic being used by the Insurance companies to stall payments as long as they can, a book by Jay M. Feinman describes the practice in all its glory.    http://www.delaydenydefend.com/book/

There have been many articles written about this policy and I will not bore you with the details.  Goggle is your friend here.

So if you can, come and protest with us, because next time this may be you struggling to get a house after 5 years of waiting. 

P1000769

5 years of progress by Southern Response, Benchmark and Arrow.

For me it is about finding out that the consented plans supplied by the building company for my new house actually do not comply with the building code.  There are multiple errors in the design: Errors in wind loading, water issues, foundation issues all leading to a redesign being needed.  There appears to have been a deliberate “fudging” of the consent by the designers. Strange “omissions” of detail.   It is with some surprise that I note that these issues were not picked up by the CCC Building Consents Department.  ( Those of you who know my history with Building consents will laugh).

Like Johnny Moore, I am having trouble “Getting over it”   If I hear that phrase once again this weekend I will have a full out whinge.

“Wouldn’t that be nice to just get on with it? There’s nothing I’d like more. Sadly, for plenty of people they’re finding it had to move forward when they’re still waist-deep in the quagmire that is the Rebuild”.   Nice comment Johnny.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch-earthquake-2011/77035088/johnny-moore-stop-telling-cantabrians-to-get-over-it

Ho Humm, tomorrow will be fun.  Kiwis need to protest more, the French have this well sorted out.  Bring on the tractors and loads of manure.

 

 

How not to repair a Heritage building in the Christchurch CBD

Now for something completely different.

I have a new neighbour in the street. Spot the furry little critter in the photo below.  Seen on the old Excelsior Hotel site on the corner of High Street & Manchester Street. This neighbour is giving me considerably less trouble than the constant stream of 2 legged vermin that are breaching the red zone fencing and breaking in to the Duncans Units.  Also it give me a lot less trouble than the political Bunnies we have at CERA/CCDU.

The hotel was built in 1881. According to Wikipedia.

I also found in my files a old 1984 photo, the colour is a bit faded.  This is Christchurch at 2.00pm on a busy afternoon in 1984. Those were the days.

excelsor 1984

1984 photo

360px-Excelsior_Hotel,_Christchurch-1

From wikipedia. Feb 2011

Todays view is not so pretty. Except for our furry friend.

IMG_20160128_090352450_HDR

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

 

While I was searching the photo file  I found this beauty..

It was on the corner of High Street and Tuam Street.  Thank heavens it was demolished in the 1990’s otherwise it was a disaster in waiting. (If you look at the ground floor you will see that all the structural supports seem to be gone, i.e. large areas of windows with nothing holding it up).  We always knew it as Dunfords Building, but that is not its correct name??.   Mr Dunford had his screen printing business on the top floor.  It was a rabbit warren, full of broken floor boards, leaking pipes and general decay.  The last shop on the bottom floor was a cycle shop. City Cycles.   They had a basement that periodically filled up with water.

 

cnr high:tuam

I am not sure of the origin of this photo. Taken in the late 1980’s-1990’s? Corner of High and Tuam Street.

 

Ho Humm its Friday.  Time to email Southern Response again and see what sort of progress has been made on my house rebuild.  ha ha.

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.