The Protests at the Art Gallery/Civil Defence Headquarters March 2011…. for the record…

I note that my original post for the protest at the Art gallery has been removed by “the powers that be”, it was less than complimentary of Minister Brownlee’s behaviour.  So I have tried to collect as much information as I can to recreate the sequence of events.  Apologies for any errors and the length of this posting.  I was a history student and I hate my blogs being messed with, even if it was too colourful!  I am happy to amend this if someone can fill in any details I have forgotten or the time line is incorrect.

The business owners protests in March 2011 were initially organised by Kurt Langer, a photographer, with a business in Cashel street. He wanted to retrieve his equipment/tools of trade from his premises. Kurt Langer became a voice for angry business owners, those of us frustrated with the way the central city was being mismanaged, the lack of access, communication, as well as concern at the level of destruction that was occurring out of sight of prying eyes by out of control demolition teams.

This was posted on Facebook.17.3.2011

Christchurch City Council are tearing down private buildings without owner permission. Destroying the lives of the very people who can rebuild the city with what’s inside. Many people have lost EVERYTHING but it is recoverable. Meet for a peaceful protest against this illegal action. Walking from the Bridge of remembrance to the Art Gallery. TODAY. Thursday 4:30PM Christchurch time”

This is last-minute but please invite your entire network to help make this known and TURN UP the protests very quickly developed a life of its own as more business owners were informed of the times and place of protest. Blog spot :  http://pc.blogspot.co.nz/2011/03/perhaps-you-have-to-be-prince-william.html

Thursday March 17 2011:

OPEN LETTER: Serious concerns of many of the people of Christchurch City

Further to my post this morning about the travails of Christchurch business owners in getting their hands on the property in their businesses, protest leader Kurt Langer has sent this email/open letter out.

Please forward this email/letter on to all that you know who can help us make this happen!

The people of Christchurch who own businesses and buildings within the Central area of Christchurch have the following concerns.
1. We have lost faith in the competence and willingness of the Civil Defence and the Earthquake Authorities to be effective caretakers of our property.

  • Civil Defence is not adequately protecting property in the central city from looters.
  • Civil Defence is demolishing buildings and businesses without consultation and against the declared interests of their owners.
  • Civil Defence is destroying property without any due diligence or care about the value of what they are destroying.
  • Civil Defence does not even care to consult with owners of property in any meaningful capacity.
  • By any meaningful standard, the actions of Civil Defence are far more destructive to Christchurch businesses and business owners than the petty pilfering of looters.

2. We have lost faith in the ability of Civil Defence and the Earthquake Authorities to bring about meaningful recovery in the Christchurch central district.

  • If recovery has any meaning at all, it is the recovery of Christchurch businesses.
  • The “recovery” to date has been micro-managed, alienating the very individuals whose recovery is essential to restart business in Christchurch.
  • There has been no interest in working with the very people of Christchurch whose business it is to run business, rather keeping the attempted recovery within the hands of too few individuals.
  • Four weeks after the quake, and very little has been achieved beyond the original rescue effort. No surprise when the people who run Christchurch’s businesses are excluded rather than embraced.

3. We call upon the New Zealand Government to:

  • End the State of Emergency on Friday. With rescue and immediate recovery complete, responsibility, risk and stewardship for property should revert to its owners.
  • Immediately reinstate personal property rights, guaranteeing property owners the final say in the determination of their property.

We say: “Tear down this State of Emergency and let Christchurch businesses begin the job of getting back on their feet.

Kurt

——————————–

Photographer
Kurt Langer

Background To the Protests:

  • The building owners had been locked out of the CBD by Civil Defense for about 4 weeks.
  • There was NO communication happening about when we could go in and retrieve our records or equipment. In fact none of us had had any communication with Civil Defence at all.
  • There was frustration and irritation at the steady stream of “dignitaries” being shown parading through the CBD in their hard hats and fluro vests.  The latest one was:  Prince William inspects Christchurch CBD.   Every so-called “dignitary” in the world from rugby player to royalty, as well as Rachael Hunter were being given guided tours of the CBD.  But we were not allowed in to get our possessions out.  Link here: https://www.google.co.nz/?gws_rd=ssl#q=prince+william+inspects+cbd Also Blog spot  has some good comments:  http://pc.blogspot.co.nz/2011/03/perhaps-you-have-to-be-prince-william.html
  • Civil Defence had been making all the decisions about which buildings to pull down without any attempts to retrieve possessions and many of the demolitions, even at this early stage, were starting to look suspect.  ie without proper Engineering reports.
  • The building owners were also hearing multiple reports of the wrong buildings being demolished, as well as only partially damaged buildings, often with the building owner not even knowing that this had occurred or having had a chance for the Insurance companies and Engineers to sight and inspect the building.
  • We also knew that all our buildings were insecure.  USAR  Urban Search and rescue, had been through the city like a bunch of wild animals, they had smashed EVERY door in the city, in their zeal and blood lust.  The excuse was that they were searching for bodies.  (If my memory serves me correctly in one instance they smashed every door, over 200? in one of the new hotels in the city, the keys were all available in the office. even the till had been jemmied open!)
  • The city was “leaking like a sieve” and we all knew of people who had been in raiding buildings.  There was a well founded perception that buildings were being looted, not only by thieves but also by some demolition contractors and others.

What you have to remember is that the Civil Defence organisation is a bunch of enthusiastic amateurs. They were given powers way beyond their abilities.

The First protest: Central Christchurch business owners urged to protest.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch-earthquake-2011/4780093/Central-Christchurch-business-owners-urged-to-protest  The Press: Giles Brown Thursday 17.3.11

“Central city business owners are being urged to gather together and protest the handling of demolitions in Christchurch this afternoon. Photographer Kurt Langer, who owns a studio in Cashel Mall, said he was asking people to gather at the Bridge of Remembrance at 4.30pm and then walk to Civil Defence headquarters at the Christchurch Art Gallery.

Civil Defence was not allowing business owners to retrieve valuable material from inside the Red Zone and knocking down buildings without due consultation. He said the number of people who attended the protest did not matter to him. “It’s not about interest. It’s all about the city being flattened without anybody knowing and without anyone being able to retrieve any of their stuff. This is the worst thing that has happened to the Christchurch city centre. If no-one does anything about it the city will be flattened and they won’t worry one bit,” he said.

It was a relatively peaceful walk from the Bridge of Remembrance to the Art Gallery,  we blocked the major road heading north and did annoy the traffic, but that was just fun! When we arrived at the Art Gallery it started to heat up a bit. There was a lot of argy-bargy, hammering on the Art Gallery headquarters windows and demands for  “P .. F.. Brownlee”  or John Hamilton to come out and talk to us. They did not. ( the language was colourful but for accuracy this record needs to be  historically/factually correct.)

(This was reported as “They banged on the windows and told Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee to come out and talk to them.” Andrew Koubaridis NZPA  ) Christchurch business owners protest demolitions  Link here: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10713122

In fact really they handled it very badly. Civil Defence had had warning that it was happening, I believe that they thought no one would turn up, they had underestimated the bad feeling that had been generated in the city. They were extremely reluctant to talk to us.  I remember we were given platitudes from all the speakers and the usual “it is very dangerous” speel.  We knew the risks!

There is some film of that day:  Link Here (click on the 3rd photo down) http://www.ceismic.org.nz/news/fairfax-collection-now-in-motion
A video of business owners outside the Christchurch Art Gallery protesting the lack of access to their buildings in the Red Zone. ( Note: This is a heavily edited version of the events.  The more colourful parts of the banging on the windows of the art gallery has been edited out).

This protest by approximately 30 people had an immediate reaction, by Friday Civil Defense was in full damage control mode.

On Friday 18.3.11, Civil Defence starts to “change” its thinking: Civil Defense calls rethink as Christchurch building owners protest.  Link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/christchurch-earthquake/4782165/Civil-Defence-calls-rethink-as-Christchurch-building-owners-protest

It became obvious to “us” (there was no group as such, just a loose bunch of angry small building owners, one with a computer and some minimal skills, another with a data base that they should not have had, one with some media and writing experience, we had no leader, no committee, no spokesperson, this had some advantages as they could not pick us off ) that we needed to follow-up this protest with a repeat performance. Discussions began immediately about another protest. So another email drop was prepared and sent out over the weekend, planning  to meet on monday.

Call to Christchurch Protest

Another call to action tomorrow from disgruntled Christchurch CBD business owners–you know, the folk who used to put the ‘B’ into the CBD.  Those good folk who know that for Christchurch to recover then Christchurch BUSINESS must recover.

Dear fellow ChCh CBD business owners,

It is now 4 weeks since the tragic earthquake of 22 February, and for most of us, we are no closer to knowing the fate of our businesses/buildings and when we will be allowed back into them to retrieve critical records, secure the premises as well as allowing Independent Engineers Assessments.

We must continue to demand our legitimate rights of ownership.

The business of Christchurch was business. Not anymore. The business of Christchurch, if you listen to the “authorities” is killing the very business that need to recover if Christchurch ever will. 

Those of us who have attempted dialogue with the council, civil defence or central government are simply fobbed off or given contradictory advice.  The meeting that none of us was invited to yesterday was intended only to fob off, not to inform.

When the person supposedly in charge, John Hamilton cannot answer basic questions like “which buildings have been deconstructed”? or “who authorised their deconstruction”?, then we all need to be not just worried, but in fact fearful as to what will be left of the CBD by the time we are allowed back in. The lack of leadership and control of the recovery effort is truly frightening.

“Business owners may have to wait over a year before they could return to the central city” – sounds like guarantee looting, demolishing and pillaging by the wreckers to me. The damage has been done–and is being exacerbated by the “authorities.”

Recovery is sadly the wrong word for what is going on, and in fact the opposite is occurring. Unnecessary demolitions and access delays is killing any chance of a recovery by the businesses expected to lead the recovery. What wasn’t destroyed in the CBD by the earthquake, is now being destroyed by a shambolic civil defence and demolition crew anarchy.

What are we going to do about it? Are we going to leave it to Gerry, John and Bob to sort it out, hiding behind the cordons and “authority” created by a state of emergency.

Some of us don’t believe they are capable or willing to sort it out within a time frame which allows our businesses to survive. Therefore, for the sake of our survival, we need to show them we want access to our businesses now,  not next week, not next month or not next year.

Come along again to the Christchurch Art Gallery, 2pm this Thursday 24th of March, and let’s present a united voice against the dictatorship under which the central city is currently operating.  

Bring your Placards or just bring your self. 

P.S.: FORWARD THIS MESSAGE TO YOUR BUSINESS ASSOCIATES, EMPLOYEES, LEASSEES, RESIDENTS & FRIENDS OF THE C.B.D.

Regards,
Christchurch Business Recovery Group.

So, 3 days later on Monday the 21.3.11 there was another protest.  This one was more difficult for them to ignore as it had got larger, 100 people.  It was accountants,  planning commissioners, Hotel owners,  Building developers, Jewellers and other leading Business owners from the central city as well as smaller retailers.  (This was not rabble or rent a crowd, this was a group of “respectable” business owners (mostly :-)) complaining about the treatment they were getting from government administrators.    This was unheard off and extremely embarrassing, it was nation wide news.

We were ushered in to the art Gallery, as they were desperate to get us out of public view.  We listened to some platitudes from John Hamilton about “It’s very dangerous in-there”  yeah right as if we were stupid.

This is where the infamous remark by Peter Townsend was made.  As documented by Rebecca Macfie, Listener 2.4.2011 Link here: http://www.listener.co.nz/commentary/letter-from-christchurch/blast-those-barricades/

this link is a bit odd: try this https://cardmakerschc.wordpress.com/page/18/

“Peter Townsend, boss of the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce, muttered on Tuesday as he ushered the protesters into a closed meeting with Civil Defence, that their actions were “a diversion of resources”. “We’ll get it sorted,” he snapped.”

The arrogance was staggering.  When did he plan to “get it sorted?” The tone he spoke in implied that we were idiots and that we should trust in his management skills.  yeah right.   say no more…..

If I remember correctly some people walked out.

What happened after that meeting was, I think, that the larger building owners were pulled aside and dealt with one by one, the smaller ones were ignored. It was about divide and rule. (A tactic that they successfully used for the next 6 years).

As we came out we decided to walk to the red zone cordon.  I can not remember the reason, but I do know that we felt that we had not had satisfactory answers to our concerns. This protest was much angrier than the first.

It ended with the “storming “of the bridge at Worcester st.  As we walked along with about 30-40  people heading for the red zone fence, I remember saying to Bruce Williamson that we had to keep going on through the cordon if we could and that we were going to only get one chance at this. I was hoping that the people following would back us up.  We milled around the intersection for a few minutes blocking the traffic, Bruce “poised for the camera with the personnel carrier” and gave them a hard time, them then we just walked up to the lone army sentry on the bridge, we calmly walked past him.  I remember him saying in a rather odd tone of voice, something along the line of “please be careful ma’am”.  I  assured him we were not going to do anything silly. So we “stormed the Red Zone”. There was no  “running past security” we AMBLED. If I remember correctly 2 building owners took off, one down Worcester st, and I think one down Hereford Street, they were chased by a cop on a bike.  They were eventually ushered out of the red zone before they got very far!  We wandered along the river towards the Hereford Street bridge and ambled back out again.  Some of us, me included,  with our arms twisted up our backs by some friendly and some not so friendly cops.

It was a symbolic act only. Very effective.

Christchurch business owners’ protest heats   21.3.2011

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10713997

“This time the protests git a bit more heated. Protests from angry Christchurch business owners locked out of the damaged CBD have intensified today, with police physically intervening when several protesters went inside the cordon”.

“A nz herald.co.nz video reporter at the scene said several protesters ran past security inside the cordoned off area this afternoon. While some came out peacefully, others were grabbed by police and physically removed”.

This is where the now infamous pictures of Joe Arts came from:

Joe being subdued!

Joe being subdued! He is very proud of this picture.  His bid for free speech!

Also the classic picture of Bruce Williamson getting friendly with a tank/armoured carrier or whatever it was!

The Army "protects" us says Bruce W.

The Army “protects” us says Bruce W.

 

The news over the next few days was about how dangerously we had acted.  We were buried in a tirade about “this is very dangerous” which was more amusing than anything.  No one seriously believed that we had endangered ourselves. The biggest danger that we faced was injury by policeman or more like seagull poo.  Use force to go in?  I hardly think so Superintendent Andy McGregor! It was a sunday afternoon walk in the park.

(I suspect that the police were as sick of Civil Defence as we were. They showed extreme reluctance to arrest anyone.  Mind you I am damn sure there were lawyers in our group  and they did not want this filmed going out live on nationwide TV.   It was an interesting day to say the least.  Eventually it all petered out and we all faded away.  No charges were laid that day even for the 2 runners!

“However, if it happened again people would be arrested: “The fact is if people are using force to go in, we’ll deal with it firmly,”  Christchurch Superintendent Andy McGregor said. I guarantee that no force was used, Bruce and I were the first past the Army security guard  on the bridge, the guard was mortified, he stepped back to let us past, and made a comment about staying safe.  He damn near let us in willingly.   A lovely very young man!  Link Here:  Christchurch protesters risking their lives – police http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10714025

Here are some of the notes I wrote at the time: they have proved to be remarkably accurate. Sadly!

  • This is the only time I can recall in NZ history that Building/business owners have ever protested in this manner.
  • For 4 weeks we had attempted to contact the web sites, visited the cordons, been to the Art gallery headquarters, to try to gain access to our building.  We have been stonewalled and ignored at every attempt.
  • It was a token gesture to show our contempt for the way we have been treated.
  • 1 in 10 retailers in the CBD is closing down, estimate from Retailers Association,  (This figure is nonsense it will rise to over 70% after 3 years if I am correct!)
  • Less than 10% of building owners/operators have been allowed access to their building. Access depends on who you are.  There is a 2 tier access system.  Wealthy and others!
  • In 2 weeks 5000 inner city workers will be unemployed when the earthquake subsidy ceases.
  • The damage being caused, by “whole sale” bulldozing to the CHCH infrastructure is enormous.
  • No one seems to have realised that it is cheaper to repair and strengthen brick buildings to 100%  than it is to demolish them and then rebuild.
  • The wanton destruction of infrastructure shows a complete lack of Commercial experience, within the “Recovery Team”.
  • It is new buildings that have failed in many cases.
  • The constant parade of VIPs having access to the CBD make a mockery of the safety argument.
  • The gross breach of our property rights, misuse of the state of emergency, lack of information, contact and discussion is frightening in a democracy.
  • We do not even know (officially) what status my building is in?  (I was lucky to have taken photos of its condition immediately after the earthquake)
  • Why can’t I get an Engineer into the building?
  • Why is looting occurring?  and not being talked about?
  • Who is going to pay for the damage caused by USAR teams breaking down doors?
  • Who is signing off the demolition contracts and who is paying for it?
  • Why is no plan being given for a recovery access process,?
  • Why are we not able to start fixing/securing our buildings before the winter?
  • It is the building owners who will rebuild CHCH Not Civil defence or the government,  why not let those of us left start?

These notes make interesting reading 6 years on.  I was remarkably accurate in my assessments.

We followed it the next day again with a smaller protest.  Just so they would realise that we were not going away.

By Tuesday the 22.3.11 The politicians were in full damage control mode,  until then we had not heard  a peep out of any of them.

“Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove has slammed Civil Defence for failing to communicate with frustrated Christchurch business owners”.

“The protest (yesterday) should never have occurred. It was born out of a lack of basic communication. It should never have got to that stage,” the Waimakariri MP told NZPA Link here: Civil Defence blasted over Christchurch protest  http://www.3news.co.nz/nznews/civil-defence-blasted-over-christchurch-protest-2011032207#axzz3SyOvfjkC

Here is a summary from the : Central City Business Association.  The CCBA consistently followed the Civil Defence “corporate speak” line.  ie supported the establishment.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011 9:45 a.m.
Yesterday we meet with the business owners who were protesting outside the EOC. We invited them in to discuss their issues with the Civil Defence National Controller John Hamilton so we could understand the issues they felt needed addressing.
 
Main Concerns and Priorities
Security – Civil Defence assured businesses that they were addressing security issues and securing buildings that were left open post the quake. Some buildings could not be secured due to their state. Many felt that their businesses were open to the elements and many feared their business and personal possessions could be being looted.
Access – Civil Defence agreed that their were loop holes in this system and knew that some people were gaining access through their connections. This has now ceased and they plan to implement one policy, no exceptions rule.
Plan – Civil Defence is working on a plan for business owners to gain access to their buildings. They could not give a time line as some of these issues are tied up with critically damaged buildings and it will be SAFETY FIRST. They are not prepared to risk any more lives as we have already lost too much. They are doing their best and ask people to be patient  
I believe the meeting was a success and appreciate Civil Defence taking the time to talk through business owner issues directly. We have to understand the extent of the issues in the city and believe me photo’s do not convey the real damage the city has suffered. We all need to hold hands, work together and make sure we communicate in a reasonable manner with each other.
 
Kind regards,  Paul Lonsdale 

This was closely followed by :

Central City Business Association, Earthquake notice  Thursday, 24 March 2011 6:52 p.m.

Last night we met with the National Controller Steve Brazier, and Civil Defence Minister John Carter to discuss the growing tension being voiced and discussed ways forward to help resolve the issues. Below is a media statement highlighting the outcomes from that meeting.
 
Remember, the best way forward as a community is to hold hands and work through the issues positively.     Paul Lonsdale

Also:
 
24 March 2011, Media Statement       
Christchurch business issues addressed

Access to businesses in the cordoned red zone of Christchurch city is being addressed by the National Controller, Civil Defence Minister John Carter said today.

“Last night, National Controller Steve Brazier and I had a very positive meeting with representatives from the Central City Business Association, the New Zealand Retailers’ Association, Canterbury Development Corporation, Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Canterbury Business Recovery Group,” Mr Carter said.

“Civil Defence is aware of the importance of restoring business activity in Christchurch and is working with these business leaders to address issues around access to vital records and property or stock by business owners.

“The National Controller will do a stock take of buildings within the cordoned red zone so business owners can find out about the current state of their business premises. He will work with the leading business organisations to find out which businesses are in the affected buildings.

“Then business owners will know if and when they can access their premises. The sooner they know that, the sooner they can start working with their insurance companies and plan for business continuity.

“This work will remain subject to safety of people and there will be some cases, due to the impact of the earthquake, where businesses will never be able to retrieve property or stock. Those businesses will be advised of that. However, as many owners as possible will progressively be allowed to access their property.

“Another issue raised at the meeting was security for businesses in the red zone and property that owners cannot access will be secured, for example, doors will be shut and locked. Any complaints about treatment of buildings or stock will be followed up.

“Reduction of cordons and better traffic flow and management around the inner city were also discussed.

“We understand the frustrations felt by business owners and believe it is important to keep talking positively with them to firstly hear about their concerns and then work to resolve them.”
Paul Lonsdale, Central City Manager, Business Association

Civil Defence quickly got their act together to improve the situation.  The very public humiliation that they had suffered was shown throughout the country.  It should in future be used as an example of how not to handle a disaster.

The protests gradually petered out over the next few days.  What actually happened is that the largest business/building owners got meetings with Civil Defense very quickly and they got “sorted out.” In fact amongst the smaller business owners there is still the view today that the large building/business owners were “picked off early” and it left only a small hard-core group of dissatisfied intransigent building owners.

Many of the smaller building owners could not afford the $1000 engineers fees that were required to get access to their buildings and had to join the “group access” schemes.  I have heard that these allowed in we  only given a very short access time, one hour if I remember correctly.  And remember you were only allowed to take out one wheelie bin of stuff!

(In our end of High Street many of the small retailers had to raid their buildings to get their stuff.  In fact, we helped some of them as we were the only building owner with any degree of access. In fact one business only got the remains of their stock out in 2014,  so the access programme was totally unsatisfactory for them).

As late as 5.7.11 There were still ongoing individual protests occurring as Business owners were still having issues saving stock:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch-earthquake-2011/5232023/Last-ditch-protest-brings-reward

So I hope this puts the records more or less straight.  If any one has any corrections please let me know.  Happy to amend!

3rd Earthquake pictures 038

22.2.2011 15 minutes after the earthquake.

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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 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

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.