How not to repair a Heritage Street in the Christchurch CBD

So whats new in High Street?

Ah, so the news breaks finally.   The plans for Lower High Street.  Good now I can talk about it.   Link Here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/80580175/big-plans-to-rescue-christchurchs-lower-high-st

This is the most positive news that I have heard for 5.5 years, this looks like progress.

The question I have to ask is:  you will notice deep in the press article that it says,  “Otakaro, the Crown-owned company overseeing the innovation precinct, declined to comment on its plans for the 111-year-old Duncan’s buildings, for which it paid $1.8m”.

My understanding of the situation is that the land will be transferred to LINZ (Land Information New Zealand).  Normally it would go too tender, (if I am correct)  but under these circumstances you would think that they would just get on with it.

Really? Have they not made a decision yet?  Just exactly how long do they need to conclude that the longer they wait:

  • the more likely it is that the frontage of the middle units will collapse
  • the more likely it is that some one will further damage/vandalise it.

This could be the most interesting area in the city if they just got on with it.  Ho Hum same old indecision by Government. They really should not be put in charge of recoveries.

I had hoped that the new agency “Otakaro” would be capable of making a decision.  Silly old me!

Late last night I received this email about the South Frame:

Dear stakeholder
 
Please find attached a work notice about City Care JFC’s upcoming work to construct part of the South Frame for Ōtākaro. Work starts on Tuesday 7 June 2016.
 
The South Frame is one of several anchor projects currently underway to create a central Christchurch that is well-formed, and that attracts people to live, work, play, learn, stay and invest.
 
If you have any questions about our work, please call us on 0800 632 889 or email us at civil@citycare.co.nz.
 
Kind regards
 
The City Care JFC communication team

160603 South Frame EPIC Block1
I notice that they started clearing the area for the new lane way a few days ago.    Are they going to seal and pave this area before the demolition off sections of the building?  Cart before the horse?

Anyway on another subject.   I tried to talk to the CCC about the 2 badly damaged buildings on either side of us. It was an attempt to get them to force the building owners on either side of us to act.  (demolish in one case, and make safe in the other).  Both of them are hindering the reopening of our frontage.   Well….. I think it will be like watching the grass grow,  do not hold your breath.  One would have hoped that in 5.5 years some attempt would have been made to force the building owners that have run away to act.  Nope! This is a major flaw in the Recovery Act.

Following last weeks debacle with the closing off of our section of the street, a compromise has been reached and our access continues un hindered.  Its road cone heaven but that normal now in Christchurch. he he!

Any way, the sun is shining, my house is back at consents for an amended building consent, as well as being repriced.  I will have the pleasure of seeing a new contract at the end of June??

Can’t be all bad.

How not to repair a heritage building in the Christchurch CBD…

CERA is gone,  ye ha, some progress at last after 5.5 years.  Or is it???  We now have a myriad of quasi government organisations taking over CERA’s functions.  One hopes that they will do a better job than CERA, but that may well be a vain hope.

We now have the: Christchurch City Council/Regenerate Christchurch/Otakaro Ltd/ Land Information New Zealand(LINZ)  all having their fingers in the pie.  I watch with interest to see if they can unravel the tangled mess.  I note that most of the CERA staff have been transferred to these new departments so I assume that it is business as usual. An inability to make sound commercial decisions and more “pie in the sky”, grandiose plans.  Ho hum who cares. Who knows who is in charge of this lot now?  It’s like a black hole of government departments.

The central city is still a mess.  Although I have seen some signs of improvement. The problem is that few of us go into the city anymore.  And I live here.  If I have to walk across town I by-pass the central city.

So What is new in High Street?

1.The McKenzie and Willis site, being developed by Richard Peebles, is making great progress. Ye ha.  The scaffolding came down briefly the other day so here is a brief view of it “scaffold less”.  ( Is that a word?)  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/79148528/historic-mckenzie-and-willis-facade-revealed–but-not-for-longP1010003.JPG

McKenzie and Willis Facade.  Looking good!

 

P1000971.JPG

Progress is rapidly occurring at the rear as well.

2. The Excelsior site has now been demolished. It does look better.   Link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/78749969/heritage-facade-on-old-excelsior-hotel-in-christchurch-demolished

3. I see Johnny Moore at Brick Farm is having trouble with rabbits.  Now that is funny, Sorry Johnny. Add rabbit pie to the menu?  I also have possums, pigeons, cats, rats and 2 legged human weasels at my end of the street. Link Here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/79634466/johnny-moore-rabbiting-on-with-visions-of-extermination

2.  There is the odd “rumour” about the fate of the Duncan’s Buildings.  All I can say is it sounds promising.  If only one can get the government to make a decision!  yeah right! Useless lot that they are.

3.  No propping of the Duncan’s Facade has occurred under either the  CCC/CERA/Regenerate Christchurch, leadership in 5.5 years.  It is desperately needed.  No sign of even an attempt to “Make safe”.  Days from notification to CCC off structural failure so far at: The CCC compliance team was notified on the 16 March 2016.  The count so far:  62 days…… please explain?????

Incidentally some one asked me the other day who our Case Manager/Block liaison person at CERA/Regenerate Christchurch is?  The second part of the question was when had I last had a conversation with them.  After a long silence I had to admit too: No idea and have not got a clue!

4. The Valentines Day quake was a beauty and caused some cracking in our (half off) pediment, way up on the top of the facade.  The Engineer’s conclusion was that it was terminal.  Thus we have had to re-scaffold and demolish it.   Bugger!P1010002.JPG

Pediment is cracked and generally munted.

P1010025.jpg

It would be helpful if the neighbour Jon Webb was not basking in the sun in Vietnam.  Sigh. I can not rebuild it as I only own half of it.  So I have had to come up with a temporary solution.

P1010058.JPGWe have redone the brick work and created a couple of pods.

It’s a pity that no one will take an interest in what is happening to the street.  As usual all the powers that be are conspicuous by their absence.  For heavens sake, the powers that be can not even get the wreck that sits beside us demolished.  How useless is that!

 

IMGP4245

Spink’s derelict building still not demolished 5.5 years later.

ho hum another day. Better head off to my new day job.

PS. My house is just headed back to amended building consent. ye ha.  I reckon I might be in it in 12 months.  No hurry of course its only been 5.5 years.

 

How not to repair a Heritage Street In the Christchurch CBD

Oh the irony. How delicious….

On one hand we have the very public spectacle of a building owner in New Regent Street facing public condemnation from the other building owners about her reticence to repair her units in the New Regent Street and the pain that this is causing the other retail and hospitality businesses. Links Here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/77313150/editorial-new-regent-st-standoff-completely-unacceptable

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/77753704/in-search-of-helen-thacker

Apparently the pressure applied upon this women has now borne fruit and she is in the process of making her building in New Regent Street safe.

And Now, we have lower High Street. The Street totally abandoned by a multitude of building owners, CERA, CCC and Heritage advocates alike.  It really is time now for some one to take an interest in what is happening here,  having me being a lone voice in the wilderness is pretty pointless.

CERA is the major building owner of 7 units in the street.  The other building owners (Webb, Lovell-Smith, Spinks, Rose, Rama) are conspicuous by their absence.

The properties that CERA owns will soon to be transferred to Otakaro Ltd. One of the myriad of organisations that will replace CERA in Mid April.  A crown owned entity.  (Same old s….. just another new re-branded crown entity).

Peter Townsend and Miriam Dean to join Crown company board”Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said the newly named Otakaro Limited would continue to “build on what we are achieving” when it took over from the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority later this year.  link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/76988371/Peter-Townsend-and-Miriam-Dean-to-join-Crown-company-board

Build on what we are achieving?  yes, really?  I hope they do a better job than CERA has in High Street.  I have serious doubts that the new board members have any experience or interest in selling real Estate let alone a Heritage building in High Street. (Townsend’s performance to date is the subject of much “robust debate” amongst the building owners that I know).

CERA has owned the buildings in High Street since August and October 2013.  In that time they have: fenced off the street…… inspected the buildings,  re-inspected the buildings, re-inspected the re-inspections ….  etc  etc you get the picture.

The irony is that these buildings have not been “made safe” under their own section 38’s “make safe” orders.  The notorious section 38’s that they so blithely handed out to private building owners after the February 2011 earthquake.  Now you may ask how does this work?  It appears to be a case of “do as I say but not as I do”.  CERA has not lifted a finger since 2013 to make safe the frontages of the Duncan’s Buildings or attempted to limit further damage from the ongoing quakes.

This is part of a city-wide issue that CERA did not address in their 5 plus years in power.  Building owners abandoned their buildings, for numerous reasons – and  in the end those that stayed and tried to do the right thing have been penalised.

A word of advice to other building owners in the country.  If you ever face the situation that we have found ourselves in.  DO NOT REPAIR YOUR HERITAGE BUILDING.  Pull it down. It is not economic to wait 5 plus years for neighbouring building owners to get their act together.

And now they have a problem.  As of a few weeks ago we had another 5.7, 4.9 and 4.4  quake.  Whoop’s!  Now, the communal I beam that runs through all the units has lost one of its support pillars  –  this was predictable. The verandah is now sagging and should have been propped 5 years ago and there is now a serious risk that with another good shake the frontage of 145 will collapse taking a good proportion of the others with it.  Note: The failure of the structural support has already caused damage to our frontage. (I am about to check out consequential Liability).

The CCC compliance team was notified on the 16 March 2016.  Technically CERA the building owner, has 10 working days to make safe from this day.  Note: that is not working days, this includes weekends.  That is what they did to all the building owners in the city. (The problem is there is no one home at CERA, the staff are too busy clearing their desks…  and have been for the last 6 months).

The count so far:  18 days…… please explain?????

So what happens now?  Watch this space!  This is going to get really interesting……

 

IMG_20160316_103207941.jpg

Loss of structural support for I beam at 145 High Street.

Ho humm  … this is almost getting to be fun.

 

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

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.