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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CERA misuses section 38’s… Again…. or is that Still….

I notice that Labour stated: “It’s time to remove the “extreme wartime powers” that allow the demolition of Christchurch Cathedral and other heritage buildings without public consultation.  “Labour’s arts, culture and heritage spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern said a Labour government would remove Section 38 of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act.” Link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/10228149/Labour-stirs-Christchurch-heritage-debate

This was about 2 days before the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority issued a Section 38 demolition order on this building. (Make safe/demolish)  The demolition of the Memorial Hall in Moorhouse Avenue  is to make way for a new Engineering and Architectural Studies building.  The Memorial Hall building was dedicated to 71 former Christchurch Technical College students who died in World War 1.

“It is a disgrace that the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT) authorities would consider the desecration of the sacred status of its war memorial in the name of progress,” the deputy chairman of Historic Places Canterbury, Ross Gray, said.

“The hall suffered earthquake damage and has not been occupied since September 2011, the CPIT said.”

Yes, true, every brick building in the city has suffered damage.  I will also point out that the Poly Technic had already made safe this building by doing some urgent repairs some time ago. I distinctly remember that the building was scaffolded and the walls were repaired and re-mortared.  (You will notice from the fencing surrounding the building that it is not in the “this is really dangerous” basket.  It is on Moorhouse Ave, it has 3 lanes of traffic and pedestrians walking past it every day.)

Now, I have no beef with the Poly Technic building a new “Engineering and Architectural Studies building”.   (Although the University already has a perfectly adequate Engineering Department and being only a simple person I fail to understand the duplication of courses.) And I am sure the Memorial garden will be a nice and fitting Memorial to those poor young men and woman who died in  World War 1.

What I do have a beef with, is the continued misuse of the section 38’s.  This building was 25% of the New Building Standard.  That is not far off 33%, it would have taken minimal strengthening work to reach the 33% required to make it legal to occupy.

The truth of the matter is that this building has stood up well to 14,000 earthquakes but was an inconvenience to the polytechnic, who have a massive rebuilding programme under way and have a better use of the land than as an old hall.  Fair enough. But stop hiding the truth under the guise of a Section 38.  Use the normal procedures and notifications.  There have been far too many buildings in the city pulled down under the guise of Section 38’s.  “Labour” is correct, this must stop.  (Although the horse has well and truly bolted on this issue in Christchurch!)

Incidentally this section 38 was immediately acted upon and the building was demolished the next Evening. They worked throughout the night and the digger quickly pulled the building in on itself and the deed was done.  Rather indecent haste I thought.

Memorial Hall

Memorial Hall

Ho humm, another Christchurch Heritage disgrace. SNAFU.

 

 

 

 

How not to repair a heritage building in the Christchurch CBD part 137

  • Locked out of undamaged factory for 1075 days – (since Feb 2011)
  • Do we still own our building????    Now 548 days since designated “South frame, Innovation Precinct” – only 1279 days to go before we get told if we are going to be compulsorily acquired by CCDU.
  • Innovation precinct Plan Due:  September,  October,  November, December 2013, January, February ????  Rumour has it not till March !!!!!
  • Building Consent for my new house 63 working days so far.- rumours are its close.

Still waiting……

An Interesting article by John McCrone on the Innovation Precinct and its slowly evaporating ideals. Link Here:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/9575704/Is-the-citys-blueprint-dream-evaporating

There are a number of comments that resonate with me.

“Then there is the innovation precinct. This is a difficult proposition both because the two blocks of buildings, most of them badly damaged, are divided among a much greater number of land owners, and also because the area had an established identity that owners would naturally seek to rebuild.

Laurie Rose, chair of the High Street Precinct Group (Interesting, I did not know that this group still functioned,  gee I wonder if I am a member?) says pre-quake, the corner of the city around McKenzie & Willis, with its cluster of heritage buildings ripe for renovation, had been developing a relaxed, mellow feel.”

“Rose says fashion business had become a feature and there was talk of a fashion incubator as a natural connection to CPIT. So, left alone, owners would have picked themselves back up, collected their insurance and got on with rebuilding more or less what had existed.”

“But now the CCDU has dropped its paralysing designation over the area. Owners are being expected to build back a hi-tech precinct, but if the tenants are to be mostly small start-ups, it seems unlikely they could afford the rents on new buildings.”

The point Laurie Rose makes is very valid.  The tenants of the Epic Innovation hub want cheap rents and “free” land.  Building new buildings and having cheap rents do not go hand in hand.   If they want cheap rent they will need to move out of the CBD.

“Lisle Hood, developer of the Lichfield Lanes project, centred around Poplar St, says the CCDU is trying to drive a square peg into a round hole.

Hood says perhaps the CCDU will get half what it wishes for. It might find one or two large corporate tenants to kickstart a transition – Vodafone is one of those known to be looking. But equally, there is the chance that the whole precinct idea might be quietly allowed to evaporate.

Hood says the CCDU has already started lifting designations on individual properties like the C1 Cafe and Alice in Videoland. Bit by bit, the plan could fragment. The spatial plan, if it is ever released, will be the test.

However in the end, says Hood, by taking over control of central Christchurch, instead of making its recovery faster, the bureaucrats appear to have achieved the opposite.”

This was a good article addressing some of the issues.  I think that John McCrone’s highlighting off some of the problems in the Innovation Zone is starting to make the Council stand up and take a harder look at the area.

Johnny Moore has been busy thinking again.  Link here:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/columnists/johnny-moore/9614956/Chch-doesn-t-need-perfect-planning

He refers to the city “lurching drunkenly along the rebuild path”

“While the official rebuild lurches and staggers along like an old drunk walking home, great things have happened despite poor decision-making; and it will be years before the old drunk is fumbling with his keys at his front door. In the meantime, we need to nurture and foster projects that are putting Christchurch on an international stage.”

he also comments on  “the institutional rebuild. Nobody overseas is excited about the bland precinct plan or an overpriced stadium. The brutal, homogenized city presented to us in the media every day is uninspiring and normal.”

Incidentally the consensus of opinion in the city is that the stadium is a dead duck.  Repair the one we have and leave that project for later on.  It is unaffordable and the designation on that area is stopping development.

How is progress on our building?

Slow progress.

Upstairs floor is being sanded as we speak, in preparation for occupation.

Down stairs is on hold as we wait for the Building Consent paper work to catch up.

Now to complicate the situation.

The Building consents department has sent me 2 emails, cancelling any building amendments (2) that we may have in progress with them. Both emails came within minutes of each other. One consent dating to January 2011 (just before the big February quake.)  And the other December 2012 (relating to extra strengthening work on the roof and walls.)

“Final Reminder.” 139 High Street

AMENDED PLANS SET 2 TO ABA10098971 FURTHER EARTHQUAKE STRENGTHENING- Historical Reference ABA10113681

Amendment On hold –  Final reminder

This is a final reminder that your Amendment is On Hold.
We have not received the requested information and cannot complete processing your application. The time frame in which to supply the requested information will expire on 24 January 2014.

Please provide the items requested within the time frame indicated. If you do not provide all the information within this time frame the BCA (Christchurch City Council) may refuse this building consent application under section 50 of the Building Act 2004.

The reason for the refusal is due to being unable to grant a consent under section 48 and section 49 of the Building Act 2004.

This letter is sent to the applicant and the owner, where possible.

Yours faithfully   Building Approvals Officer   Christchurch City Council

Interesting!

Call me suspicious but how come this has happened?

1. Final reminder?  I have not seen any previous reminders? We had an email conversation a month ago when I tried to get an exemption to gib the ceiling. But that’s it folks!

2.  We have had 12,000 earthquakes, we have been locked out of our building for months on end, and you want to cancel our amendments so that your figures look better? For heavens sake, show some understanding of the situation of the building owners trying to repair a heritage building. How hard was it for them to pick up the phone and find out why we are having trouble? It is very easy to send an email, but perhaps if they checked out the reality of the situation they might just like to reconsider the issue?

I have had to call in some assistance with this problem from the Heritage team at the CCC. Who are suddenly showing an interest in the street.  I am accepting their assistance gratefully.

The Heritage team at the council are proposing “some transitional work along High Street.  A key part of this work is to open up, as much as possible, the block of High Street that your building is in to create quality access to encourage more cyclists and pedestrians
to use this route.

We understand that you are very close to having your building open again
and we hope that this work could assist in bringing customers back to
this part of the city.”

Urban Design and Regeneration Unit
Strategy & Planning   Christchurch City Council

Hopefully some sort of reprieve can be negotiated!  (hot off the press: this has now been sorted, I think)

There is a deeper issue here…

There seems to be a lot of posturing going on in the Building Consents Department.  The truth of the issue may be that they are desperate to “improve” their clearance rates. Perhaps to justify the installation of the Crown Manager? The International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) cancelled their accreditation.  “IANZ scrapped its backing over fears the council was granting consents that could potentially put people and property at risk” link here: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10894535

Then we find out that  “The review showed more than 98 per cent of the resource consents received during 2012/2013 were processed within the statutory timeframes, and that minor issues which did exist were within the council’s capacity to resolve.”link here: http://nz.news.yahoo.com/full-coverage/a/-/article/20147407/christchurch-consent-problems-minor-adams/

The only problems that they has identified are procedural issues. They have discovered no dangerous buildings or flawed consents.

So why did the building consents department lose it accreditation?  And why did the government install a Crown Manager, Doug Martin, to oversee the department?

I am not capable of making a through analysis of the issue. But this take over has been another political decision made in Wellington. Why?  The question one must ask is: Now that they know that the Consents Department was making only “minor procedural errors” why has this expensive Crown Manager remained in place?? Certainly they face a tsunami of consents as this “supposed Rebuild” begins, but I am sure a Crown Manager will not be making the Consents Department a comfortable place to work in.

The word down here is that this is trial run for a massive nationwide shake up all Building Consent departments in all the Councils. We will watch with Interest.

On the subject of the Government, has any one else noticed how they are keeping quiet on the Christchurch situation? It is very obvious to Christchurch peeps that Gerry has “had the word” and been told to lower his profile, Sutton is almost invisible, even CERA/CCDU/ The Property Group have managed to keep a lower profile.

One could suspect that National MP’s has told them to pull their heads in till after the Elections.

But I would say that!

A much more interesting issue is detailed in the Press this morning.  Another building owner bemoaning the lack of tenants for his new CBD building. Link here:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/9664423/No-tenants-left-for-the-CBD

“Property developers warn buildings with “A-grade” rentals in the central business district cannot compete for tenants against cheaper, already-completed developments elsewhere. The warning comes as some developers and investors take their plans and money elsewhere in the face of high construction costs, reluctant tenants and uncertainty over car parking.”

What a surprise.  As I have repeatedly said,  CERA/CCDU locked out the building owners for 2 years, gave us no certainty, and still insist on persisting with the designations on our building.  Ho Humm where have they been?  For heavens sake, admit that you have stuffed up and find some solutions.  It’s not rocket science.

Gerry says there was still “high levels of confidence among local investors.”  ???  hello? The number of projects that have been abandoned is starting to mount up.

Its simple really

As “Property investor and former director of Harcourts Stephen Collins said the outskirts of the central city, had flourished in the “early days of recovery” while the CBD was effectively closed for business.

“People had to make decisions . . . there’s only so long businesses will be happy working in adverse conditions before they move on.”

Collins said before the earthquakes the CBD used to boast a range of buildings, from A-grade to C-grade office space, but post-quake it was being repopulated with new, expensive buildings that carried high rents.

Oh well, good thing our building will have a cheaper rent than the new stuff, it may be our saving grace.

Great article, finally some one talks about the counter productive nature of the prolonged lock out, which stopped any proper assessments of buildings that could have been repaired cheaper and faster (which would have kept more of the fabric of old Christchurch.) They thought it was easier to pull them down and build new, CERA/CCDU did not think through the consequences of throwing away 100 plus years of infrastructure and they just thought that it was miraculously going to be rebuilt, brand spanking new and FREE! Paid for by the insurance companies.  ha ha!

This rental issue now is the direct result of this prolonged lockout, when we could not gain access to our buildings using Independent Engineers and they would not listen to any dissenting views from anyone.  ie  Engineers such as Miyamoto Structural Engineers, CORE-( http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/8535100/Owners-slam-rebuild-delays-costs) Heritage, Iconic and many other Groups that tried to get their views across and we were written off as idiots. Including us!

Incidentally,  all of the small trade contractors that come to our building have said the same thing.  Over and over again. They say that “CERA/CCDU have got it wrong”.

Ho Humm life at the bottom of the world is fun!

High Street a NATIONAL Disgrace…..The forgotten precinct….

  • Locked out of undamaged factory for 1022 days – (since Feb 2011)
  • Do we still own our building????    Now 495 days since designated “South frame, Innovation Precinct” – only 1332 days to go before we get told if we are going to be compulsorily acquired by CCDU.
  • Innovation precinct Plan Due:  September,  October,  November 2013 December????  Rumour has it not till march NEXT YEAR!!!!!

Still waiting……

Gerry’s disappointed with the lack of progress in The Innovation Precinct…… The forgotten precinct.

ha ha, he should try being a building owner down there. One who has nearly finished repairs and is still in limbo!

His report card indicates: “he should try harder, Gerry has not understood the importance of this issue, and could do much better. Perhaps more understanding of the importance of Heritage precincts could be learnt by spending more time talking to his teachers and reading his history books.  A trip to Melbourne or Europe is desperately needed….. 1/10

We were interviewed by CTV the other day, attached is the link.  As usual with these type of interviews you get a few sound bites…..   but one does ones best! Not a situation I enjoy. Link Here: http://vimeo.com/81238212

Well that is funny!   Mr Brownlee is  “extremely disappointed” that the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment  (MBIE) who are responsible for the Innovation Precinct Plan,  “don’t seem to be able to make much progress” says Mr Brownlee, on this he is correct and we are in agreement for the first time in 3 years.  We have had one conversation that I can recall with MBIE and it was “unhelpful”. (Less said about that meeting the better)

He had a meeting with some building owners in the area 2 years ago?????? I wonder who that was????  (I have my suspicions…)

We seem to be unable to get it through their thick heads, (for the last three years) that it is repairable and that the “highest and best use for the land and buildings is as a repaired Heritage Precinct.”   Contrary to the stated intent of the Cer Act “to assist recovery”, CERA/CCDU/MBIE are hindering recovery, their lack of progress, Inability to tell us exactly what an Innovation Precinct is and inability to sort out the building owner issues is legendary.

I have been regularly talking to the tourists who are walking up and down our block and they just shake their heads in disbelief at the neglect and wanton destruction that has been under taken by the National Government in this area. ( We will not even discuss the Cathedral issue, that defies belief and there is no doubt that future generations will shake their heads in amazement).  The tourists I talk to fail to comprehend why the “Powers that be”  can not see the importance of this Heritage block.  In fact it has been embarrassing to have to constantly explain what is happening here. Because I have no rational explanation.

High Street, a NATIONAL Disgrace

Mr Brownlee is incorrect to say that “Absolutely no action whatsoever has occurred in the innovation precinct”.  In our block, David Collins has begun repairs, going to 100%NBS, we are basically repaired barring some finishing and tidying up.   And a further 5 units had been strengthened prior to September 2010 earthquakes.  The Billens building was due for repairs prior to the arson in Dec 2012.
The block may look in poor shape, but it is repairable, at a cheaper price than pulling down and rebuilding. Remember also that much of the damage at the back of the buildings was done by civil defence “taking a digger for a walk!

Frontage with the ply removed just for CTV, now back on!

Frontage with the ply removed just for CTV, now back on!

I also note that Mr Brownlee’s fear of brick buildings is emotive and not based on the facts.  He knows the figures just like I do.
– Footnote:  We are reluctant to remove the ply from the frontage of our building, which would show considerable progress has been made. There is a complete lack of security in the street.  Not assisted by the so-called “security fencing”.  They have locked security out with the fencing.  CERA takes no responsibility for security. I note that CERA have not done what they promised to do and open the walkway along High Street.  In fact there is no real reason why the street could not be opened to one way traffic. This would improve security immensely.

I would also note that the CCDU owns 6 units (that I know of, in our block) we note that they have NOT begun repairs yet.  We have no idea what their plan is.  We would be interested to know?  Could some one ask them???  We also would like to know why they have not dealt with the problem of recalcitrant building owners? (Today we “made safe”  our neighbours parapet, as no one would assist us to force the land owner, Jon Webb (BBS Australia LTD) to undertake repairs. This repair was done at our cost, in an attempt to mitigate further damage.)

Also until some certainty is given re the status of the block, very few owners or purchasers will volunteer to take the risk of doing repairs. ie we have a 5 year designation hanging over our heads. Then we may be confiscated and demolished by the CCDU.  A point Anna Crighton made very clearly in this interview.

New Regent Street has had similar problems with land owners as High Street.  For some reason Cera has been willing to help resolve the deadlock.  This has not occurred in our case.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/city-centre/9450504/Deadlock-on-street-travesty

It is clear that the New Regent Street Heritage Precinct is in trouble, as the new shops struggle to pay high rents, have low foot traffic and are isolated by road works and the surrounding desert!.  There is really no reason to go to that side of the city.  Hopefully Groovy Glasses moving down there will help. She is a niche destination.  The building owners down there need to change the mix of tenant.  They need to be destination tenants not general ones like bars and cafes. It is going to be some time before the right mix is reached. More thought needs to be given to this issue.  ( Rumour has it that so far 8 businesses have pulled out of this street. They need to think a bit more strategically.)

ho hummm….. Maybe Gerry should come and talk to David Collins and I. We will try to get him to see the importance of The High St Heritage precinct. Until he understands, we are fighting an uphill battle. The ball is in your court Mr Brownlee….. you hold all the cards, but you have not come to the correct conclusions.

Limbo on High- after 998 days…….

Locked out of undamaged factory for 998 days – (since Feb 2011)

Do we still own our building????    Now 471 days since designated “South frame, Innovation Precinct” – only 1356 days to go before we get told if we are going to be compulsorily acquired by CCDU.

I did have to chuckle when I saw Roger Sutton say that “Quake repairs ‘not fast enough’  Link here:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch-earthquake-2011/9395681/Quake-repairs-not-fast-enough-says-Sutton

He was mainly referring to residential repairs.  He is correct of course.  There would be very few residents on the east side of Christchurch who have not had an abysmal experience with EQC and their insurance companies. The lack of action by Government in sorting out the Insurance Industry and EQC is shameful.

Closer to home for me is the lack of progress on the Port Hills claims, it is an example that should never be repeated in New Zealand.

Roger Sutton also: “denied claims from MPs that Cera had a culture of knocking down buildings that didn’t fit the city’s blueprint.  

Hello?????   Calendar Girls building, Westend Building, Bicycle Thief to name a few. In the East frame,  NG building and Cassell’s are still threatened. And many others were pulled down before the blue print was released.  Very convenient for CERA.

Than we get: “Many buildings throughout Christchurch might appear solid enough, but the costs of rebuilding them did not stack up, he said.”

Humm: this hoary old chestnut,  they seem to think that if they repeat this often enough we will believe them.  The figures in many cases stack up.  Repair is cheaper. The costs of building foundations now make this comment even more relevant. (This is not so in all cases of course.)  In many cases buildings were pulled down before comprehensive assessments were done. In some cases before the owners were even informed.  “Make safe procedures” were also “performed” on many buildings, they were poorly thought out and in some cases far exceeded what was necessary.

Finally! yeah ha!

as of this morning,  Cunliffe breaks his self-imposed silence on the Christchurch situation: The headline?  Cunliffe’s recovery criticism ‘ridiculous’. 

(Funny is it not that Brownlee always attacks anyone that makes a negative comment about the situation in Christchurch. Typical of the bullying tactics that have been used by the Insurance companies, EQC, CERA, CCDU and others.)

Link here:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch-earthquake-2011/9397762/Cunliffes-recovery-criticism-ridiculous

There is obviously a by-election coming in Christchurch!  But the silence of the opposition parties has been disturbing me for 3 years.  He remarked:

“I’m putting the Government on notice. I will be asking a hell of a lot of questions about the Christchurch recovery.”

I hope he keeps his word.  Three years is too long to wait.

“You have a minister who has the power of God, who is a human wrecking ball cutting a swathe through the centre of the city.”

“He was visibly gobsmacked when he looked at the central business district and could see little progress three years after the earthquakes first struck the city.” 

Gosh he must have come and looked at High Street.  Our own personal Limbo land”   trapped in a 3-year-old time warp, by CERA/CCDU and Building owner apathy.

I am thinking of renaming our block ” Limbo on High Street”.

Hows Progress on the building?

I am currently busy painting the ceiling in the toilet block. What fun!

In the weekend we are planning to sort out some frontage issues.

Overall? Stalled by:

  • the plaster not turning up
  • the builder not turning up
  • a lack of scaffolding for the plasterer. ( Out of stock!)
  • the lack of Engineering sign off
  • the lack of amended building consent
  • the lack of certainity on the fate of the “Innovation Precinct”

status normal!  Christchurch is stuffed.

ho humm

The continuing saga of a beseiged building owner in the Christchurch CBD… part 130

There was an interesting article by Liz McDonald in the CHCH Press 30th October 2013,  talking about the potential for the oversupply of office space that looks like it may become an issue for the city. Link Here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/9340046/Over-supply-of-office-space-expected

“Gary Sellars, director of valuation at Colliers in Christchurch added up the metres and warned care at a Property Council function last week.” “He predicted a requirement of 280,000sqm of office space for the whole city. One case scenario “if we build everything that is proposed” would lead to 350,000sqm of office space of which almost a fifth would be oversupply.”

Its simple really. Much of the new building activity is happening outside the frame. ( For obvious reasons. Our plight would stop anyone with any sense trying to rebuild in the CBD!).  It is unlikely that the businesses that have relocated outside the frame will be willing to move back to the CBD, they have long-term leases and the central city looks like Dresden. And given the fact that rebuilding inside the Frame is still at a standstill I can not see this changing. Also the rentals outside the frame will always be cheaper than inside the frame. The artificially created shortage of land has guaranteed this.

The articles in the press are coming thick and fast:

I confess that I was disappointed with the traffic plan.  Link Here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/9346033/New-Christchurch-transport-plan-praised   I felt sorry for the new Mayor Lianne Dalziel having to rubber stamp Gerry’s transport plan. I know from the whispers from my sources within the council that they really wanted to see the removal of all the one way streets. The best the council could do was slow the traffic down as it speeds through the city. I suspect that sooner or later this plan will have to be revisited. It is a 1960’s failed solution to moving traffic. It does not serve the city well. Better use of the 4 avenues would solve many of these issues.  By the way, the properties in Tuam Street have just dropped in value ( particularly those on the south side, that is the side that will be most affected by the two lanes of traffic ie it is harder to park and this side of the street will suffer more “value loss” than the north side).  The properties in Lichfield street have just risen in value.  Guess which is the better buy???

From my point of view it traps the lower High Street block, one of the last heritage block left in the city, between 3 one way streets. Not really an enviable situation.

There was also an excellent article by John McCrone the Christchurch Press 2.11.13.  Titled “Legal Challenges Expose Hasty Process.”   http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch-earthquake-2011/9354331/Legal-challenges-expose-hasty-process

He discusses the hasty decisions made by the government, re the rubber stamping of city boundary changes, the quake Outcasts decision/red zoning decision and the Phillipstown School case.

Meaty issues, that require a stong cup of tea and a few re reads.

McCrone discusses the red zoning of the residential areas. I note that the bullying done by Cera to force us to accept the red zone offers is started to be discussed openly.  I guess that progress.  (I am still very cross about being bullied into having to sell our red zone land in river road, the threats, bullying and constant CERA phone calls was a disgrace.)

By the way Arrow and Southern Response are using the same tactics, but that is the subject for another day.

I also notice that Anna Crighton says “It was absolute vandalism what happened”,  referring to the demolition of the heritage buildings.  She is referring to the 10 day make safe notices that we all received.  The dreaded Section 38’s.  We were exceptionally lucky that we had already engaged an Engineer prior to the earthquakes, we had building consent and had already, prior to the earthquakes, began the strengthening work that our building required.  Most building owner did not have a hope of finding an Engineer in 10 days and as they were not property developers or have any skills in project management they were quickly bullied by CERA into allowing the demolition of their buildings.  (In some cases without the courtesy of even a phone call or the chance of being inspected by either the owners Insurance company or an independent Engineer.)

We managed to get the correct paper work in place in more or less the time allowed and that was no mean feat.

I am starting to realise that by doing what we did we very likely saved the entire Duncans Block.  My logic being: that CERA could not pull one down with out pulling all 16 down as we have an interconnected universal I beam.  That must have been very galling for CERA.

I also had a laugh at Gough’s comment in this article:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/9354289/City-built-for-love-not-money

“Investor-turned-developer Antony Gough said his Terrace precinct underway on Oxford Tce was costing him $5 million more to build than it would be worth complete.

“None of the projects stack up financially. That’s why we don’t see developers rushing into Christchurch – it’s only slightly nutty passionate Christchurch people doing it.”

Gough said he would be better off financially building in Tauranga or Auckland, but was a long-term investor in the city.”

I think he is correct, we must be slightly nutty.  For us the issue is that the cost of our repairs will be less than building a new building.  Our estimate for a new building our size is approximately $2.1 million, given the cost of foundations and builders etc.  The cost of repair will be less than $700.000  – give or take an arm and a leg.

I received another missive from the CCDU a few days ago.  A letter to inform me that 3 buildings in the South Frame have had their designations removed.  Not us of course. We have only 1368 more days to wait before they confirm or deny that we are going to be acquired.

What was interesting, was the list that accompanied this letter. It shows a list of approximately 200 other building owners in the South Frame in the same limbo land that we are in. (Some of these building owners own multiple sites, some are owned by the crown already so this is a rough tally up.)

Great PR is it not?  200 + other “pissed off” building owners in this frame alone! gee that is going to speed up the rebuild is it not. They need to make some decisions soon. There are very few building owners who have taken the gamble that we have taken and begun repairs prior to confirmation of acquisition being given.  Based on the 1368 more days to go before the designations are lifted I wonder if any action will occur until the situation is clarified. I suspect not. So where is the OVERDUE Innovation Precinct plan???? I am waiting……….

On a more practical note:  We now have an up and running upstairs toilet block. This required a new water cylinder( racked), toilet (cracked) and the replacement of some floor tiles- the tiles no longer match, but I guess we will call that trendy.  A sort of Mondrian look, though I must confess not as attractive as his works!

We also have a new problem, The new fencing installed by the CCC and authorised by CERA  is giving every tagger in the city “a ladder to our roof area”, as well as the full length of rooftops across the Duncans buildings. We have to get the paint out and try to clean the mess up. After a number of phone calls I get to CERA, the person in charge of our block.  I requested that CERA move the fencing slightly to make it more difficult to access the back of our building.  I am not holding much hope out here for a solution.  They seemed singularly disinterested, though they said they would look at the situation. The CERA man I spoke to said he would also “ask security to keep an eye out”.  yeah, the same sort of “eye out” they gave when the Billens building burnt down.

I suspect that as usual we will need to scrounge, beg, borrow or steal a roll of barbed wire.  (Offers gratefully accepted!)

I did offer to put up an electric fence….”We are not amused.”

Leaving this block in the condition it is in is criminal.  They just don’t get it do they?
One of the last heritage blocks left in the city, demolition by neglect. I throw my hands in the air in true European fashion and state “they are mad!”

We are also starting on the gib plastering next week. The stair walls are in danger of being gibbed as well!  No sign of the dreaded “Detailed Engineering Evaluation”, Producer Statement  and amended building consent. The less said about that the better. I guess I should hassle the poor Engineer again.

Oh my gosh, progress, our next door neighbour at 129 High Street,  has a contractor searching for steel beams in the concrete columns. (To get an idea of the strengthening work needed). The rule is: “if you can fly a canary between the reinforcing it does not have enough.” Very scientific I know!. That is the first action that has been taken in that building for 3 years.

Another day in the life of a slightly nutty building owner in Christchurch.

Innovation Precinct…. and so we wait… only 1375 days to go….

Locked out of undamaged factory for 977days – (since Feb 2011)

Do we still own our building????    Now 450 days since designated “South frame, Innovation Precinct” – only 4 more years to go before we get told if we are going to be compulsorily acquired by CCDU.

And so we wait……

I see in the Press this morning an article by Liz McDonald, talking about “Business as usual for three sites”…

I suppose I should be pleased that 3 building owners in the Innovation Precinct have been notified (and I hope they got it in writing) that:

“The Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) has lifted the blueprint designation on three sites previously earmarked for the Innovation Precinct.

“The owners can carry on happily with what they’re doing. The buildings fit comfortably within the special plan,” said CCDU head Warwick Isaacs.”

link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/9325088/Alice-in-Videoland-fits-blueprint

The rest of us are fed up with waiting for them to make a decision.  How long do they have the right to keep our lives on hold?  The answer is another 1375 days,  ( It was a 5 year designation on our property.) That is 1375 days more that we can’t plan, can’t work, can’t advance or relax and move on.

Where is the justice in that???? Christchurch at its best???  I think not.

I am pleased for Alice’s and C1. And I suspect that there was no way that CCDU was going to try to acquire the office complex housing the Law Firm Buddle Findlay, ( For obvious reasons!) Or the Polytechnic campus.

 Dean Kozanic BUSINESS AS USUAL: The building housing C1 cafe and Alice in Videoland will not be bought by the Government.


Dean Kozanic
BUSINESS AS USUAL: The building housing C1 cafe and Alice in Videoland will not be bought by the Government.

But for heaven’s sake, tell the rest of us what is going on…

All I can say is that it is “unlikely that they will take us””…. it is also unlikely to rain tomorrow.

Incidentally: “Isaacs said that while the designations were gone, city planning rules would ensure the properties’ future use fitted the plan for the area.”

Now that is odd, I was clearly told at my “update” meeting, that “they would not dictate what type of tenants we could put into our building.”  Are they going to supply us with reliable, paying tenants of a suitable calibre? Does that mean we have to conform and to what???   No one yet has managed to explain to me what the Innovation zone actually is and what they mean when they talk about “innovation”.  Is a massage parlour acceptable?  High class of course!  Calender Girls maybe??

Another day in the life of a besieged building owner.