Sensitive area: The Exchange

### The Star Thu, 21 January 2010 (pages 1 & 3)
Multi-level car park mooted
By Stu Oldham
A new multi-storeyed parking building may be considered for downtown Dunedin in a development that could prove a forceful boost for a reinvigorated Exchange. DCC property manager Robert Clark this week told The Star he would spend the next six months investigating the viability of a new parking regime at the Exchange end of the city.
● Full article at print and digital editions of The Star (Allied Press Ltd).

Private investors are building a stand-alone carpark in High Street, and to do so they’ve demolished irreplaceable heritage building stock. The design of the carpark’s replacement ‘facade’ to High Street by Oakley Gray Architects is wince material.

The Dowling Street carpark, owned by City Property, should never be made to extend into lower High Street, blocking the magnificent vista that runs in both directions between Mornington and Dunedin Railway Station. The vista was established in Charles Kettle’s survey plan for the city. Former city architect Robert Tongue has made drawings for a building development sited on the Dowling Street carpark site that destroys one of the best street vistas available in Dunedin.

How real is the need for parking?
Are we fêting the wrong people and the wrong leasing tenants for the Exchange Area?
The community and Dunedin City Council have no urban design strategy for the Exchange Area and how it connects into other quarters close by.

The headline of The Star article is presumptious and clumsy. “Mooted” is a game too far. An investigation into a new parking regime for the Exchange Area is overdue.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

22 Comments

Filed under Architecture, Business, Construction, DCC, Design, Economics, Geography, Heritage, Innovation, Inspiration, Media, Politics, Project management, Property, Site, Tourism, Town planning, Urban design

22 responses to “Sensitive area: The Exchange

  1. James

    Not entirely tangentially, there is an interesting post on the Auckland Transport blog (run by a planner), who notes the existence of overseas schemes (eg Sydney and Perth) where there exists a Parking Levy. Essentially a tax on all providers of parking, designed to discourage the provision of parking and promoting better land use. That’s a clumsy summary, read for yourself
    http://transportblog.co.nz/2010/01/18/a-parking-levy/

  2. Peter B

    I’ve always hoped that the Dowling Street carpark would be developed as a hotel or mixed use apartments. A carpark seems a waste of its potential.

    • Elizabeth

      Especially a waste of potential with the proximity of the now under-landscaped Queens Garden, which the city treats as a traffic island rather than a beautifully articulated, layered public space to nuture inner city richness, collective memory, loss, community, growth and hope…et al. Well, like it used to be. Mixed use apartments would be perfect, as an enclave to ‘infill’ Dowling St, and to complement and provide some closure to the Garden.

      Please email Robert Clark and councillors with your views on the site.

      Let them know about the Parking Levy, too.

  3. Richard

    The Dowling Street Carpark site has been considered for many uses including a new Central Library, now overtaken by the possibility to use the former CPO plus Edinburgh House site. I like the idea of mixed use, including apartments and parking but that would require a private developer to show interest etc.

    As for Queen’s Gardens, I simply record it was the “arrival” of the one way street system (now State Highway 1) which created ‘the traffic island’ !!!

    Like Peter E, I say “bring back the grid system”, open up Great King Street (so that it is ‘great’ again), have one highway route and physically connect the inner city and The University.

    Getting rid of the ‘one ways’ would, I understand, add 2 minutes driving time to access the inner city. I believe Dunedin drivers would “buy in” to that in exchange for a better inner city environment.

    At my urging, council got rid of the one way ‘chicane’ around The Exchange and Broadway. Would anyone want to return to that?

  4. Richard

    At yesterday’s Council meeting on the Draft Annual Plan when the conservation and restoration of our many monuments etc was discussed, I noted the major work needed on Cargill’s Monument and again raised that before this is contemplated, consideration be given to relocating it in a more appropriate position within the Plaza.

    The present road configuration was worked around its present location but, as you will all know, it is very close to the traffic and makes for a very tight (and sometimes hazardous left turn into Princes Street) as well as for those who stop to view it.

    It therefore makes sense to position it further away from where it is and, in my view, for it to become a grand heritage centrepiece of the Plaza.

    The recent shift of the War Memorial in Thames Street, Oamaru shows how it can be done. And, after all, Cargill’s “marched south” many years ago from its original position in The Octagon.

    Comments most welcome.

    • Elizabeth

      Richard, the whole Plaza is a visual and experiential disaster as a public place. No doubt, Cargill’s Monument can move within the space to a new, more respectful and integrated position, to give greater joy and ambience.

      When can I forward my landscaping plans! Includes a microclimate and treatment study…

  5. David

    Richard – I think getting rid of the one way system would be a disaster.

    The “two minutes” extra would likely be much more than that at rush hour, and double it again if you are crossing town, rather than just going to the centre. Even if it only took five minutes extra at rush hour that’s an additional hour per week on a commute.

    With a two way system you reduce every vehicle to the speed of the slowest truck / car / forklift.

    Dunedin has many great advantages over other cities – low rates (at least we used to have low rates), hassle free parking that is free or cheap (at least we used to have that), hassle free commuting – lets not throw that away as well.

    • Elizabeth

      Cr Wilson replies to Lyn Miller of Purakaunui (ODT 23.4.12, Letters to the editor, page 8), ‘Cr Wilson quizzed on street proposals’. The councillor describes herself as “an informed councillor”.

      Despite the best will in the world, or limited to the fraction of will left after seeing DCC hitting the multimillion-debt skids the way it has, I’m far from sure about that.

      Informed would be DCC in-house staff compiling the facts about who benefits and who loses from any swing back to the two-way highway system in the CBD – both south and north of the Octagon.

      All councillors have at the moment is potential costings for the staff’s (and pet stakeholders’) pet project to go two-way.

      This project is getting ramrodded through the LTP process and everyone knows it. DCC doesn’t need a majority or minority of public submitters to substantiate a new line in the plan budget. As the stadium project has shown.

      Two way system – “unfunded” they say, maybe not for long.

      Let’s check who submitted on the LTP in support of the project, then put some DCC staff names to who did the coaching.

      I’m not saying I love or hate the project, I greatly dislike the bald coercion. Dress it up any way you want Cr Wilson.

  6. Richard

    We still have “low rates” – among the lowest in New Zealand.

  7. David

    We also have low wages – amongst the lowest in New Zealand.

    Our rates are rising every year at a rate that is many, many times inflation (i.e. from DCC mag – 40% increase over 4 years).

    Are we getting a 40% increase in services?

    Or is much of the increase going into vanity projects that most people don’t want, don’t need, and won’t use? (and in particular servicing rediculous amounts of debt because we have a council that can’t stop itself from spending, spending spending, whether we can afford it or not).

    Rates increase should be set to no more than inflation, and councils should operate within their annual budget – a bit like what everyone else has to do.

  8. James

    Are the increases really going on so-called ‘vanity projects’? My impression, certainly reinforced by the rates breakdown, is that the rates are still largely core council business, and that the increases are driven by an arrival into the 21st century — and the same drivers of rates hikes around the country. The standards of water and sewerage treatment, air quality are all much greater than they used to be. Oamaru no longer has poo falling out of pipes onto the beach. And sheep grazing in the water supply was no longer possible. Ashburton, long the low rates king, had a bit of a rude awakening when they realised that resisting recycling meant that their landfill was nearly filled, and are now trucking their rubbish north of Christchurch.

    • Elizabeth

      Suggest Annual Plan/Rates discussion moves over to one of the threads with Annual Plan or Rates in the title, so people know where to look for all your useful comments and observations, thanks folks :-)

  9. Hype O'Thermia

    Cars don’t bang into one another nearly as often or as disastrously when they are not going in opposite directions on the same road.
    What kind of barrier is proposed to separate the north- and south-bound lanes? How will RH turns be accommodated if traffic is safely separated? How many lanes will there be, each way? What about cycling lanes – both ways, and not crossing traffic lanes? Is the present road wide enough for a 21st century through-way carrying the amount of traffic at peak times? What’s the projected deaths, $-damage, and $-injury costs for going back to 2-way?
    How much more horrendous will it be, getting from south to our pride and joy, our beloved Fubar Stadium?

    • Elizabeth

      That’s all indicated in preliminary studies – see Draft Central City Plan. But yes, let’s get all the likely costs down, including to institutions, businesses, tenants, et al in the area (and wider) plus to council and NZTA. Otherwise it’s nothing but a fraught desktop exercise with no credibility. Will so-called business growth in the (joke) creative quarter justify the potential roading expenditure; will the number of vehicles passing through on the highway system increase, remain static or decrease in the next 5, 10 or 20 years? Oh gosh, I see enrolments of overseas students have dropped due to earthquake fears… or was it also due to the years of University of Otago advertising campaigns about beer swilling, vandalism and social unrest coming to maturity (hah!). Who knows. Who really cares. Are IT businesses better to be located closer to the campus area… with a new approach to the planning of North Dunedin, to get rid of the couch burners. Changing the roads doesn’t figure if the council is deeply in debt, council shouldn’t be spending except on essential services for a few years… This cuts right across Greater Dunedin’s short-term thinking to get through the 2013 elections. Darn. The whole road thing is horseradish.

  10. daseditor

    Elizabeth
    As an organisation of free-thinkers the Dunedin Amenities Society submitted on this project in the 2012 Annual Plan. Though as you can imagine we certainly did not require any “coaching”. Queens Gardens is an area of great historical significance for the Society as it was our founders Thomas Brown and Alexander Bathgate who in 1887 agitated to have what was known as “the triangle” developed as a gateway site for the city. With the foundation of the Society in 1888 and the presence of the NZ and South Seas Exhibition in 1889 the development of the site became a hot topic for debate in Dunedin. In 1889 the Society gave £250 for the development of the reserve on the condition that the Council match the amount. Unfortunately (or typically depending on your point of view) the Council found it had to renege on that offer and other parts of the development were undertaken through public subscription by the Society. The donation by Mr Wolfe Harris of the fountain (now at the Botanic Gardens) added a major attraction to the area. The fountain was recently restored by the Society using the bronze casting skills of the Hillside workshops, and it is disheartening to think that these skills may not be available to us in the future.

    Nowadays the landscape has changed considerably, rail is no longer the major gateway to the city and the historic reclamation of the foreshore has altered the nature of the original area. There is no doubt that the one way systems have alienated the public open space of the area and severed important linkages to areas like the Exchange, Settlers Museum, Railway Station and First Church. In this year’s submission the Society raised the issue of the nature of the separation of the space and the importance of the site to the history of the Society as its first public project. However, we also tempered that view with concern over the cost of the current proposal.

    Our submission was more a reminder to the Council that the Society have a significant interest in this project because of its historical importance to our organisation. That means keeping a watching brief on how this project develops and what (in the Society’s view) is in the best interests of the preservation of the open space and benefit for the city. After all, since 1889, the Society has 500 quid invested in this area and we always like to see out money well spent!

    Regards

    Damensoc
    Dunedin Amenities Society Website Editor

    • Elizabeth

      Damensoc
      Thanks for the very useful precis on the Society’s past involvement and current thinkings on ‘that end of town’. Nope, you don’t look like anyone who would be coached in the way I was thinking. But then, I wasn’t thinking of philanthropic souls when I wrote that.
      Nor was I thinking of urban designer Kobus Mentz, although I was surprised by how much Kobus was coached by DCC staff – however, he at least made the point (after delivering the same type renderings for Auckland, Invercargill, Christchurch and Dunedin…) that the Octagon upgrades should be last of all central city upgrade projects to budget since the current arrangement is workable (if not ideal). As a consequence, ‘naturally’, DCC honed in to bring that one forward!
      Queens Garden(s), traffic island, has enjoyed a rather more glorious landscaped past as, may I say, something of a ‘pleasure garden’ – beautiful photographs exist – we have lost so much, but the images raise the future potential of the green space and its connection to other green areas (new and existing) in the CBD.

      All I want is some numbers, some rather critical numbers. And you know how hopeless DCC is with numbers, especially when it has spent them all.

  11. Peter

    I like the idea of the warehouse area being revitalised and it was encouraging to see that the Macknights are going to restore that building on Cumberland St with the bricked in windows. I haven’t a clue whether the two way road system will speed up the revitalisation. I guess as far as the Macknights are concerned they are going ahead regardless so, maybe, the two way road system isn’t pivotal for redevelopment? (It would certainly look better on Crawford St as the artist’s impression indicated).
    The continuing bugbear is of course our city debt and this interesting city plan will probably have to lay on the table for some years. A victim of less worthy projects…. like you know what!

  12. Hype O'Thermia

    Closer to the campus area …. I’d have said that of all businesses, IT ones are least dependent on being located close to anything in particular – except other IT people. They’re not like shops, they don’t benefit from visits from people whose initial intention is tyre-kicking to kill half an hour but then end up buying, ah-um, a newly designed web site.

  13. Calvin Oaten

    The problem is time. In as much as it marches on. We for better or worse live in the motor car age (perhaps for not much longer) and must work within its constraints. With all due respects, Damensoc’s 500 quid investment was made in the horse and buggy era, as indeed were most of the precinct buildings now struggling to be useful. The one-way system was instituted to facilitate the motor car. Kate Wilson is way off the planet in backing this ‘silly’ exercise of the back room planners. They are just looking to make work to justify their existence. As for the Kobus Mentz’s of this world, they just swan in (make all the preposterous proposals without so much as an understanding of the social mores pertaining to the area, under the pretense that they are somehow gifted, due to a degree in some form from some prestigious institution no-one’s ever heard of) then swan off again with a nice fat fee. When we suddenly experience an upsurge in population to the point where there is a clearly demonstrated need for more commercial/retail spaces. it will be time enough to dream of more capital investment. If it ain’t broke then don’t fix it.

  14. Hype O'Thermia

    Nail on head as usual, Calvin. Harbourside cafes and apartments? Same story, static population therefore it could only work by taking people == commercial viability away from current cafes and apartments. Same-same in the beautiful old buildings. The owners who either have passion or can see commercial potential are going ahead with restoration, strengthening etc. Passion seems to be the driver, and I 100% urge the DCC to waive their can’t do kaupapa and make it as easy as possible for these genuine visionaries. These are people who put their own money on the line for their own satisfaction with a job beautifully done, and at the same time they benefit Dunedin enormously so I do not begrudge a few cheapies and freebies in return – but not the DCC getting in and making a huge multi-block “development project” as envisaged by naff urban design consultant(s) – esp ones from outside who don’t assume they need to know anything about how we do things here. Our culture!
    I saw a great explanation of “culture” – it’s how people do things and what they do [and value, in real life – my addition]. Wish I could remember where I read it. Some aspects of all cultures are destructive, naff, drinking to get blotto not to be sociable being an example. Strolling along the wharf area isn’t part of Dunedin’s culture because of the weather, likewise strolling around the Exchange area is unlikely to catch on unless all the old buildings are retro-fitted with verandahs to keep the rain off.
    And yes, I HAVE noticed the uncommonly glorious autumn we’re having now.

  15. Hype O'Thermia

    I’d like to see fewer “initiatives” from the DCC and more assisting/not impeding people doing their own thing where it’s not destructive, uglifying, encouraging urban sprawl for private profit or otherwise antisocial. The DCC has shown NO talent for knowing better than the average ratepayer.

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