Curtain call for the Ministry Night Club in Lichfield Street…..

You already know that I believe that the Christchurch Press for the last 3 years seems to have operated under a “code of silence”.  There has been very little said about the lack of political opposition to the way the Government has: locked up the CBD, demolished 100’s of commercial buildings, red zoned huge chunks of land, dispossessed 10,000 families of their homes and properties, failed to protect the people on Insurance Issues…. and the list goes on. They also appear to be unwilling to stand up for the rights of a small number of building owners who have been vocal in their opposition to the fate being forced upon them by CERA/CCDU/Property Group.

This is a story about Bruce… The article he refuses to write. This is the shortened version. Today is not a good day for Bruce, as today the Government compulsorily takes his building and land in Lichfield Street.

Why has there been a code of silence? One could speculate that they are afraid to get offside with CERA, who is one of their biggest advertiser.  ie Cera is the Government..

This story highlights the plight of one building owner facing compulsory acquisition, At a price he deems unfair.  This scenario is and has been replaying itself out across all the “faintly coloured Green frames” created by the Government planners for many months.  Property rights have been ignored and trampled on.

There has been an attitude in the city that a small number of us “rich capitalist Building owners”  (yeah right!  I wish) should put our own personal interests on hold for the “greater good.”   ie refer back to Gerry’s “carpers and moaners.”  That’s us. Now  I have no problem being mindful of the greater good of the city, BUT you need to compensate me fairly.  This word “FAIRLY” seems to have slipped out of the Governments vocabulary.

One possibility is that they do not like the concept of the Ministry.

Johnny Moore comments: “Maybe an aging nightclub doesn’t fit into slick flyover graphics.

But true vibrancy – about the most thrashed word when pitching bullshit in this city – means taking everything that comes with the city.

That’s the nightclubs, the brothels, the homeless people and all the smells, sounds and sights that come with being in a real city.

If you want a sanitised city, go to the mall. I want a real city, full of the excitement that comes from something less contrived.

A place where small businesses all work to create colour that can’t come from some horrible over-planned perfect notion of a city.”

Johnny Moore is correct.  A city is a collection of good, bad and ugly.  That is what gives it vibrancy.  A fact CERA/CCDU seems to have forgotten.

Gerry did a “good job.” he told everyone that our old buildings were unsafe…. with his “Dungers” comment.  This comment was deliberately calculated to put fear in the hearts of the less knowledgeable city residents.  What he “forgot” to say was that more people died in the new buildings than the old ones.  There was a calculated plan created to demolish all the old city and rebuild it bright shiny and new. (And the good bit was that it would be mainly paid for by OUR Insurance policies.) This involved getting rid of all the small land owners and small businesses. The earthquakes provided this opportunity.  The central city will become the home of many of the country’s government departments as they are relocated away from Wellington. Incidentally, I have been told by one of the cities Engineers that all that is needed to make many of the older buildings safe is to “strengthen the frontages only”.   That is the weakness of the old buildings. Not the insides or side walls. Very few “old dungers collapsed” causing loss of life.  Frontages did collapse, If they are tied back the risk is substantially reduced.

An article has been written about Bruce by a journalist at the Press.

Bruce Williamson has owned and has operated the Ministry night club on Lichfield Street for 20 years.  Since the February 2011 earthquakes he has been locked out of this property.

Today it will be compulsorily acquired under the Cer Act.  He has been unable to reach agreement with The Property Group on the value of this building.  He maintains that the building is repairable, he has spent many months on the repair and rebuild strategy.  The repairs are estimated to cost approx $500,000.  He has already spent $300,000 on design and engineering work, removing the damaged 1st floor and keeping the building at 36% of the NBS, as it stands.  All of this work was with Cera’s knowledge. Bruce was not only rebuilding, but also upgrading to be more suitable for live gigs, with increased capacity.  A facility desperately needed in our city.  Which has a massive shortage of venues.

So lets pull another one down eh!

One would have to ask why they let him do this work when they knew that they were going to take this building.  There is no obvious answer to that question.  This situation has occurred on more than one occasion in this city.  I suspect that we may soon be in the same boat as Bruce.

The Property Group maintains that the building is a write off and that the value is the land value only. It is apparent to both Bruce and any casual observer that there has been a plan in place since February 2011 for that land. This is one of the reasons that he has been locked out for such a long period of time.

Today the land will be taken, his bar will be demolished and replaced with….. wait for it…. bars, shops and homes. Link Here:

Bruce has the misfortune of being in an area designated for a bus depot.. There was never any intention that he retained this building and land.

Funnily enough the design brief states “The developments should support an interchange that integrated with the surrounding spaces, especially to the east connecting with SOL Square, a previous entertainment precinct that was badly damaged by the quakes.”

Another case of the moral judgements of a group of aged, conservative, white middle class ex-army personnel clashing with the free thinking Lichfield/High Street forward thinking lefties? Perhaps…

What I do know is that one of the reasons Bruce is having troubles is that they are afraid of him, he is feisty, he is past being angry (just like me!) he is freehold and the plan to “starve him out” did not work.  This delaying tactic has been used by CERA in many cases. They wait until the building owner is desperate and fed up.  I have seen many of his emails to and from CERA.  They make interesting reading.  His relationship with them has fallen into such a state that they now send him emails from: “: email from nameless person: 88-90 Lichfield Street”.

Bruce is keen to see me publish some of these emails, but due to fears of retaliation by CERA I can not take that risk. Sorry.

Stay strong Bruce. Make them repay you every cent that you spent on this building and add 3 years of wages.

here is a link to the Ministry web site: