Saturday, October 11, 2014

Christchurch CBD Update, 4 Years Post Sept 2010 Quake. CERA Boss Sutton's Demise & CCDU Boss Isaac's Demise

Saturday 11.10.14. It was 4 years since the Sept 2010 quake & we'd survived all the subsequent quakes & rebuild disruptions during 2010-2013. In 2014 we'd moved to Lake Tekapo then Fairlie in Mackenzie Country about 200 kms from Christchurch. We'd returned regularly to Christchurch to relocate our possessions, visit our adult sons, still working & flatting in Christchurch & for Leah's lecturing & meetings at Seabrook Mackenzie Centre, London St.

As Leah had another meeting in Christchurch, I dropped her off at Black Betty Cafe, Manchester St. Black Betty Cafe was so successful at New Brighton, it had moved to the CBD, opposite the tech. I had the afternoon to kill before I rejoined Leah at Seabrook Mackenzie Centre, so I wandered Christchurch's quake trashed & demolished CBD. Since I'd last wandered Christchurch CBD, mid December 2013, there was slow progress by CERA's CCDU, private rebuilds & Council activities, amidst dusty demolition sites, Wilsons car parks & few businesses trying to re-establish.

Notes I made while wandering Christchurch CBD:

St Asaph St: Still tatty - backs of part demolished / abandoned, High St bldgs were an eyesore.

Manchester St / St Asaph St / Tuam St corners, both sides of Manchester St, were still demolition site messes. There were many ragged demolition sites by Poplar St, High St, Tuam St, Lichfield St, Madras St. An indictment of CCDU's so-called, green E Frame. There were still part demolished & abandoned bldgs on High St, near Alice in Videoland.

Opposite EPIC, Odeon Theatre roof was gone from Manchester St road side. The unclaimed roof had lain there, an eyesore, for a couple of years. Half demolished Odeon Theatre was still an eyesore, theatre seats & part demolished auditorium were still exposed to the elements.

Tuam St: The old Council bldg, full of asbestos, was demolished in 2014 for the new bus exchange. The post quake, temporary bus exchange had worked for a couple of years further along Tuam St.

Manchester St, E Frame, blocks between Lichfield St & Worcester St, several bldgs were demolished & sites were grassed for the E Frame. Bldgs like Majestic Theatre; quake trashed bldg by Bedford Row; abandoned Shooters & neighbouring bldgs; all gone. That area of quake trashed Manchester St was neatened up, at last.

Corner Manchester St / Worcester St: Quake ruined Trinity Church / Octagon Restaurant was an abandoned eyesore. Kitsch photo art of quake trashed Trinity Church, covered N & S ruined facades.

In June 2015 Shands Emporium was relocated next to Trinity Church. Across the road, post quake rebuild, Westende House was demolished in July 2015. CCDU wanted to widen Manchester St there to build a bus stop.

Cathedral Square: Christchurch Cathedral was a ruined eyesore for 4 years, so far. Nothing going on, the Cathedral was still surrounded by boards & fencing. Arctic promo boards in front of the W facade showed various Arctic scenes & research by various countries. The Maori plant whare still stood by the fence-closed entrance to the Cathedral W facade. Asian tourists happy-snapped Cathedral ruins.

Latest propaganda / misinformation by The Press: Published aerial pics of E side of the Cathedral rather than the serial quake ruined W facade, tried bamboozling the public, especially outsiders, that there was little quake damage to Christchurch Cathedral. If that was true, why board up & fence the Cathedral, stopping public access?

Cathedral Sq: Abandoned Camelot Hotel awaited 2015 demolition to make way for Central Library rebuild. Novotel open. Cathedral Junction open, trams running. Heritage Hotel open. Millennium Hotel still closed.

Government Life bldg in Cathedral Sq was being demolished, filled with asbestos pollution. Never mind passersby. Abandoned Gloucester St bldgs by abandoned Arcades bldg & Government Life were also being demolished. Abandoned Gloucester St, Central Library, half demolished for CCDU's Blueprint Convention Centre. Gloucester St Bridge was still closed for repairs. Anyone could see quakes had sunk the area into Avon River swampland. Yet NZ govt / CERA wanted to spend millions of dollars erecting a Convention Centre there, a monument to National stupidity.

Colombo St / Hereford St corner: BNZ asbestos ruin was still closed, part demolished, by closed Millennium Hotel next door. Opposite corner, on ANZ demolition site, an office block rebuild progressed.

BNZ Centre construction site on Cashel Mall, by Colombo St / The Crossing: Pagoda House on The Crossing was still abandoned. Opposite, Ballantynes was humming. To make way for BNZ Centre, Restart Cashel Mall container shops, opposite Ballantynes, were moved closer to Remembrance Arch by Oxford Tce.

Abandoned Mad Cow bldg, Oxford Tce, was demolished for the relocated container shops. Remembrance Arch was boarded for quake repairs. Remembrance Arch lions were gone for repairs. Saturday Flea market stalls & takeaway food carts lined Cashel Mall. Pre quakes, the stalls & carts used to be at the Arts Centre, Worcester Blvd.

Oxford Tce: The Terrace rebuild was stalled with steel skeleton incomplete, unpainted steel joint panels on painted girders were already rusting! In 2015 The Terrace resumed rebuilding.

Corner Gloucester St / Durham St Nth: Provincial Council bldg was still closed for quake repairs. Opposite, Amuri Courts demolition site, a crane was still on site while the office block rebuild progressed. Opposite, Cambridge Tce corner, Deloitte 5 storey office rebuild was almost complete, with wavy glass walls & green glass panels.

Worcester Blvd: Art Gallery was closed & fenced for quake repairs. Arts Center was still closed & fenced for quake repairs.

Rolleston Ave: Canterbury Museum was humming. There was a new display of old Arctic, portable ply board huts & another display of modern Arctic modular constructions, some portable, as Arctic ice / snow moves. I watched a movie of Sir Edmund Hillary's 1950s expedition to the South Pole, his Sno Cats falling into crevasses en route. It renewed my interest in the Arctic Sno Cat & tractor displays in the museum.

The Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre was complete.

Corner Durham St Nth / Chester St West: Abandoned NZ Radio bldg & Spicers bldg were demolished for a law office office rebuild in progress.

Corner Durham St Nth / Kilmore St: On Crowne Plaza Hotel demolition site, Pallet Pavilion was gone. The relocatable wooden Arches still stood. Gap Filler wooden office still stood on site. A small digger landscaped the site with new soil by replanted grass.

Kilmore St: Quake trashed Town Hall was still boarded, no repairs yet. The road was repaired with new tar seal in front of Forte Health glassy rebuild.

Council's Black Map, a Victorian Map of Christchurch rivers & swamps, showed that Forte Heath was built on top of an underground stream flowing to Avon River. CBD bare ground, after all the CBD demolitions, made it easy to see where underground streams ran & where terrific damage was done during the quakes. Example: Kilmore St, Salisbury St, Peterborough St had an underground stream & were all blitzed by the quakes. Abandoned Town Hall stood on Kilmore St beside Avon River. PGC bldg, Cambridge Tce, which collapsed in the 22.02.11 quake, was built on an old, silty levee close to Avon River. Post quake engineers & architects repeated the same stupidity as former CBD swamp builders.

Peterborough St: Road repairs progressed by Manchester St crossing. CERA's regrassing, diagonally opposite St Lukes demolition site, was overgrown, like 9 months ago when I'd last wandered by. The shabby vegetation insulted families of those who'd died in nearby PGC bldg collapse, during the 22.02.11 quake.

Barbadoes St Cemetery by Avon River: Many grave stones were still toppled by quakes. In the CBD all along slumped Avon River banks, the banks were restored with black material laid on river mud & pinned with steel pins. In places riverbank repairs narrowed the river to constrict & speed up water flow.

Fitzgerald Ave, by the post quake rebuilt, northbound bridge, overlooking Oxford Tce: While I viewed red zone demolition sites, across Avon River, where Jake had once flatted in the Avon Loop, Luke pull up in his van. A pleasant coincidence.

18.11.14. TV 1 news & The Press reported CERA boss Sutton's demise. One of his female staff complained that Sutton got fresh with female staff, hugged female staff, calling them "honey" & "sweetie" & told sexist jokes, so Sutton announced his resignation at a press conference, even admitting mea culpa, but whining about his exhaustion.

In my teaching career in SA I'd met crude bosses like Sutton, who went through divorces, socially & emotionally retarded, making snide remarks about women & sexist jokes & leering at other men's wives, expecting other men to support their filthy minds & wayward hands.

Over 41 months or so since the 13.06.11 quake, Sutton had overseen formation of NZ govt red zones & NZ qovt green zones in quake trashed areas - demolitions of 1 000s of houses in residential red zones & demolitions of 100s of houses & commercial bldgs in Christchurch CBD red zone.

Sutton had overseen SCIRT infrastructure road repairs, far from complete & a constant irritant to road users, due to numerous road cones, detours & sloppily repaired roads.

Sutton had also overseen NZ govt's Blueprint for Christchurch CBD, but so far, all the CBD had was dusty demolition sites, abandoned bldgs, a few struggling businesses & some rebuilds or revamps done by Council or the private sector - some repaired hotels, New Regent St restored businesses, repaired Cathedral Junction, Restart Cashel Mall container shops on demolition sites.

No NZ govt Blueprint anchor projects were built yet. As for the so-called green Frames, many bldgs were demolished in the E Frame for parkland & as an afterthought, new housing. The S Frame was filled with perfectly OK, quake surviving businesses, like car dealerships, which were screwed around by Sutton's CERA until January 2015, when Sutton left. CERA then decided not to purchase most of those viable S Frame businesses & backtracked on it's S Frame, wanting just a few green lanes, whatever that meant.

Sutton's CERA had planted lots of grass in demolished red zones & in the E Frame in the demolished CBD. The trouble with expensive planted & mown grass was that mown grass didn't allow natural plant succession in the red zones, encouraging local fauna back to the red zones.

So far, all the rebuild CERA had done was fiddle with Blueprint CBD Avon River banks, by revamping CBD river bank paths & gardens. Sutton's legacy was many govt demolitions, no govt rebuilds - a study of NZ govt's disaster management cockups.

Sutton's indifference when CERA made risible govt offers to red zoned, bare ground, landowners: "Here's the offer. Have a nice day." I doubted red zoners would weep for Sutton's demise.

The Sutton fiasco was expedient for NZ govt, as CERA was formed post 22.02.11 quake & would only last till April 2016. A 02.09.14, CERA media release read: CERA will become a Department Agency within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet... So all CERA's puffery over its 2011-2016  tenure would be offloaded to the PM's Dept & Cabinet.

Friday 19.12.14. While Leah had a Xmas function at London St, I wandered the gritty CBD again & found rebuild work going on at Poplar Ln, where Jake had flatted pre quakes. Odeon Theatre was still part demolished, a post quake eyesore. TV news had featured a Johnny-Come-Lately touting his forthcoming book of quake trashed bldgs & had shown him sneaking into fence-cordoned Odeon Theatre demolition site, to take pics. I'd taken many pics of post quake Odeon Theatre. The latest news flavour of the month was photographers sneaking into quake trashed bldgs, like ruined Christchurch Cathedral & taking pics. That was an indictment of CERA's slow demolitions & slow quake recovery.

Besides graffiti on quake ruined walls, so-called art was also found on quake trashed walls or walls of revamped bldgs, like a bowing ballerina painted on the back wall of revamped Isaac Theatre Royal. The latest art was colourful, fibre glass giraffes all over the CBD,

Majestic Theatre demolition site on Manchester St was a Council car park.

Corner Manchester St & High St: Workmen revamped the tram line.

I wandered down High St during lunch hour & found Brick Farm, a gritty gastro-pub, full of boozy men, no women, amongst quake ruins. Stranges Ln, between Lichfield St & High St, had 3 busy, new gastro-pubs in a new bldg & a pre-quakes, brick bldg across the lane. Stranges Ln spooked me, as I didn't trust the old brick bldg.

Cashel St / High St crossing: Three diggers were parked on top of a massive concrete rubble pile, ready for a rebuild.

Christchurch Cathedral ruin was just as disreputable as it was months ago. The Wizard was back jabbering to tourists before the ruin, an apprentice Wizard in tow. A man dressed in white leggings, white shirt, black waistcoat & tricorn hat chatted to a hobo. Men played giant chess nearby. The Council Library & Government Life bldg were demolished at last, for NZ govt's Blueprint Convention Centre.

Victoria Sq: Victoria Square apartments were demolished, also for the Blueprint Convention Centre. Repaired Colombo St Bridge looked good beside ruined Christchurch Town Hall.

CERA media release, 10.02.15 - Warwick Isaacs to take on new challenge. CERA rats were leaving the sinking ship. Like Sutton, all that Isaacs left was a demolished, red zone CBD, mostly empty demolition sites, abandoned bldgs & a few rebuilds done by the private sector. No Blueprint anchor projects had started. Just tinkering with Avon River banks.

CERA media release. 29.01.15 - Residential chapter release paves way for vibrant central city living. Isaacs had left shortly after CERA altered the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan & City Plan (District Plan under Resource Management Act 1991) enabling quicker rebuild of shoddy housing in the CBD, particularly CCDU's E Frame.

Isaacs: A Liveable City creates a new Central City Residential Zone which gives those building homes more flexibility in their design & allows a range of housing types for those who are keen to look at living in a vibrant central city.

We have a goal of seeing more than 20 000 people living in the central city in attractive neighbourhoods with diverse communities. The residential chapter includes more information on development initiatives such as residential development in the East Frame, an area that will be home to approximately 2 000 people and which will begin construction toward the end of the year. [By the end of 2016, no residential buildings had started in the E Frame].

The boost to residential activity will encourage further commercial growth and investment as people move into the central city.

The latter was obvious, but it took CERA nearly 4 years post Feb 22 quake to admit it. CERA's original Blueprint was to use the E & S Frame as a land bank cum parkland, to improve land values for a favoured few red zone sections in the Frame, CERA's so-called core CBD. Meanwhile quake damaged & CERA-cordon-strangled, CBD businesses relocated elsewhere, while CERA dithered.

Isaacs quit to become CEO of Stonewood Homes which soon went into liquidation.

28.02.15. On one of my Christchurch trips, I drove Luke along New Brighton Rd, past red zone, Locksley Ave turnoff, with views across Kerrs Reach & red zone both sides of Avon River, to New Brighton. Luke wanted to show me salvage sites he'd worked at, like red zone, housing demolitions at Kate Sheppard Retirement Village & red zone, housing demolitions at New Brighton & Bexley.

We returned to town via Pages Rd, past red zone Bexley, Wairoa St, Waitaki St & Bexley Rd. Most of the houses in residential red zone we passed were demolished. The residential red zone was scruffy with overgrown vegetation. Pages Rd Bridge was still in a parlous state of disrepair. A new Burger King was built on a demolition site, corner Aldwins Rd / Linwood Ave. Luke said, "Burger King went up pretty quickly, competition with McDonald's & KFC across the road."

Most roads I drove that day, like Bealey Ave, Fitzgerald Ave, St Asaph St... were still in a parlous state of disrepair. So much for SCIRT repairs. Inferior bitumen was repeatedly laid, patch upon patch by contractors. Asphalt trucks roamed Christchurch, but tar seal repeatedly cracked & needed repairs, again & again. No one was inspecting road repairs properly. SCIRT contractors made a fortune doing crap work, digging up roads over & over again.

New mayor Dalziel recently opined that it would take another 30 years before Christchurch roads would be up to pre quake standards. Never mind massive rates increases by her Council.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Victim upset by Suttons conduct (The Press / Stuff Co)

See Resignation of CERA Chief Executive (NZ State Services Commission)

See Land for anchor projects reduced (The Press / Stuff Co)

See Warwick Isaacs to take on new challenge (CERA media release 10 February 2015)

See Christchurch faces 30 more years of rough roads (The Press / Stuff Co)


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