Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Destroying a city

The only bit of good news I've been hearing about the Christchurch downtown rebuild is the EPIC technology hub.

Meanwhile, here's Angus McFarlane on what Council's done to downtown:
Councillors sat in stony-faced silence as property owner Angus McFarlane said the "obstructive, dictatorial and impractical" plan was a "rubbish pipedream".

McFarlane, who said he owned more than 10,000 square metres of the city, said the city was in despair before the earthquakes, with a failing central economy and diminishing values.

He told councillors they had made a mess of the city before the quakes, and the draft plan "proves you have got it wrong again".

"You have disenfranchised the landowners, commerce leaders and building groups ... Goodwill is tangible but very hard to replicate and replace when gone. You have all but scared it away."

Property Council New Zealand chief executive Connal Townsend said property owners and developers supported the council's vision for the city centre but were "terrified" by the proposed regulations within the plan.

"You have gone to an extraordinary level of specifics that many members are terrified by."

There was a "high risk" that central-city property owners would reinvest outside Christchurch if the plan's prescriptive nature did not change, he said.

"Once existing owners start to receive their insurance payments, that will give them a lot of liquidity, and we need to keep that invested within the four avenues."

A statement in the plan about extinguishing the existing-use rights of property owners would also discourage investment in the city.

"Those are the magic words which are guaranteed to turn investors off ... That's just not the sort of message that I believe you should be sending."

Mayor Bob Parker told The Press McFarlane was "clearly not a happy guy".

Although not personally offended by McFarlane's heated submission, many would find his comments "deeply insulting".

Parker said central Christchurch was failing before the quakes, but he did not agree that the rebuild should be put into the hands of the business community.

"Business people have not been able to find a solution to the failing city in arguably 50 years. The city centre is not just a collection of businesses. There is a massive investment of the ordinary people," he said.
Mayor Parker allows room for massive regulatory takings in the draft plan and then thinks it "deeply insulting" that someone might object.

I'd love to see an iPredict contract on Christchurch population as at next census.

Other minor bits of good news: some rebuilding has been approved. But demolition crews claiming that it's impossible to recover essential business files from the sites they're tearing down still manage to find time to strip out cabinets, furniture and computer equipment for salvage. And building owners are none too pleased about demolition cost overruns.

I was in the beer section at Fresh Choice Parklands (best beer selection in Christchurch) during Saturday evening's 5.5 aftershock. So I had to pick up a couple bottles of Twisted Hop's Red Zone Enigma: the beer that sat in the conditioning tank behind the military cordon from February 22 through to August. We're saving our second bottle in case of anything 5.5 or bigger; hopefully, it'll age for many years.


  1. I have a six pack of the Red Zone Enigma. I plan on drinking one each February 22nd as my own little memorial to everything you guys have been through (and continue to go through) down there.

  2. It comes in 6-packs? I'll have to pick up a few more next time I'm at Fresh Choice (or just order online); it will age well.

  3. Nice to see that you still have the right priorities. After reading the label I am organizing a field trip to Fresh Choice Parklands, as Fresh Choice Avonhead seems to believe that 'not Tui' is good enough.

  4. I don't know how to send you a link any other way - what do you think of this?