George Street: Two new uglies (thanks DCC, no City Architect…)

(just DCC resource management planners with no design training, and use of the odd ‘consulting architect’ who lamely fails to press that architectural details be made “right”, lest they upset “the boys”—be they lousy small-time architects (as opposed to REAL DESIGN ARCHITECTS), architectural designers, draftsmen, builders, property developers or investors). Our kindom, for a City Architect —to compile and enforce design guidelines, and through district plan mechanisms, to require the use of registered architects by developers working in important townscape precincts like George Street, and to shove an unforgiving multidisciplinary Urban Design Panel at the buggers.

No. 1 —Apartments, 581 George Street
We’re all familiar with Farry’s Motel, now Farry’s Motel Apartments at 575 George Street. The complex used to look out on a green area, and vehicle parking with mature trees and shrubbery at 581.

DCC Webmap 575-581 George StreetDCC Webmap 575-581 George Street

Malcolm Farry recently sold the properties at 575 and 581 to Ethel Limited, a family company led by Frank Cazemier who has worked for Cutlers as a “University Investment Sales Specialist”. A cursory check of directorships at the NZ Companies Office website shows Cazemier is “one of the boys”. Pity he knows next to nothing about contextual commercial residential design, architectural bulk and location, facade modulation, sun angles, or landscape architecture —such that can’t be solved by ready trees.

575 George St (1c) IMG_4619581 George St (1c) IMG_4618581 George St (2d) IMG_4623

Farry’s Motel Apartments now looks out on a poorly designed featureless boundary fence, and the sobering double block of apartments ‘next door’ at 581. The block furthest from the street (walls of light blue), when seen from driveways to either side, reveals a ‘long elevation’ running parallel to George Street that resembles a jerry-built, badly-windowed reclad of a tired country hall (the low, horizontally-orientated fenestration allows for another floor of rooms above, in the roofspace).

581 George St (3c) IMG_4602581 George St (4c) IMG_4606

The marketing statement for Farry’s Motel Apartments at 575 still says:
“Set alongside a large grassed area that provides a playground and picnic spots, we are one of the most centrally located Dunedin motels, offering an absolutely superb main street position.”

This is no longer the case.
The very likely expensive exercise in ‘infill design’ (intensification/ densification…) issued from the drawing board of Bill Henderson, Architect of (fuck-a-daisy)WANAKA —someone who appears to work at the ‘cheap-looking’ end of the market, or at least has diminished design flare, poor knowledge of scale detail and proportion, and lack of expertise in three-dimensional architectural composition. As a result, and while meeting planning criteria for the zone, the motels/apartments at 575 and 581 now look about fit for student stays only, or at a pinch, the G&T parents of capping graduands. No fear, the new apartments will be mouth-wateringly expensive to rent. The student ghetto continues, behind the tacky dress-up to George Street.

Incidently, Farry’s operates a charge back system with the former Farry-owned Cargill’s Hotel, now Quality Hotel Cargills at 686 George Street.


No. 2 —Apartments, 2 St David Street, cnr George Street
There used to be a nice old single-storey bungalow with fine curving bay windows and a palm tree on this site, next to Quality Hotel Cargills. Only the palm tree remains. The bungalow became victim to an excavator. It isn’t clear if the windows and internal period joinery (if still present) were dismantled for re-use.

DCC Webmap - 2 St David Street2 St David Street (7b) IMG_03402 St David Street (9c)

The site is now owned by Newmarket Investments Limited and has been recently developed for apartments. The company directors are Clive Hewitson and wife Wendy May Hewitson. Clive Hewitson’s profile at LinkedIn says: “Director – Otago & Southland, New Zealand | Real Estate”. Hewitson is another of the “boys”, as records at the NZ Companies Office show. Some link up in the past with companies of which Frank Cazemier (mentioned above) has also been a director.

2 St David Street (2b) IMG_45912 St David Street (3b) IMG_4580

The apartment complex is faced, not too convincingly, in ‘red brick’ – at first glance, no-one can tell if it’s real brick facing or veneer! Questionable are the lack of reveals, and the scale and position of openings (doors and windows) in the street elevations; with tweaking to proportions and placements this could have solved. The glazing bars are wrong. Small frosted bathroom and toilet windows to the street (on the public face of your building) are a No-no. The shallowness of the gables to the street elevations, also grates in perspective. The grey wooden pickets added to the base of the original garden fence are odd. The whole is unnecessarily dreary. Taxi drivers hate it. The pencil cypresses may provide a foil, once mature (the building really needs one hell of a lot of ivy). Have to admit, designing anything between Quality Hotel Cargills and Econo Lodge Alcala is a free-for-all, BUT why not try…

2 St David Street (6c2) IMG_4583No registered architect. It shows. The developer used RJ Oliver Architectural Design, Mosgiel – spot the spelling mistake!

2 St David Street (1b) IMG_45982 St David Street (5b) IMG_4595

Why didn’t Quality Hotel Cargills buy 2 St David Street to take control of the prominent corner to George Street? We note Dunedin architect Hamish Wixon is a director/shareholder of 678 George Street Limited and Cargills Hotel Limited. Perhaps we can look forward to developments at the tired Cargills…


Strategic Site: 715 George Street, cnr Regent Road
Can we possibly imagine what will get built on the site of the former BP 2go Regent service station? Another horror story? Another ‘architectual’ (sic) bodice-ripper? 715 is owned by Northfield Property and Investment Company Limited. The sole director is Bryan Howard Usher of Dunedin.

DCC Webmap - 715 George StreetDCC Webmap – 715 George Street (context)

Post and building images by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Architecture, Business, Construction, DCC, Design, Economics, Geography, Heritage, Hotel, Name, NZIA, People, Politics, Project management, Property, Site, Tourism, Town planning, University of Otago, Urban design, What stadium

10 responses to “George Street: Two new uglies (thanks DCC, no City Architect…)

  1. le duc

    Elizabeth, I hardly expect this comment to be run, but maybe I’m Amazed there are still cabals of ‘boys’ running things. I mean, how old are they? It’s like old Trade Union terminology: the boys on the Steering Committee. Naff, say the ducal.

    {Have you not heard of the GOBs? You obviously didn’t attend OBHS. -Eds}

    • le duc

      No, Eds, I went to a Coast Technical. Irrelevantly, a Canterbury radio station was I.D’d as: “The Voice of The Plains ~ and The Uglies! More Music!”.

    Those mingy little windows remind me of state houses. Paint it that vile shade of pastel blue (you remember the one, it’s a sickly pale colour tending towards turquoise) and describe it as an ironic yet affectionate tribute to NZ’s period of state involvement in the provision of decent housing for its people whatever their earning capacity.

  3. Anonymous

    You have missed the new! imaginative! tilt-slab concrete going up next to the Regent Dairy in front of Toroa House. A Naylor Love construction, presumably on behalf of the University of Otago.

  4. Anonymous, with this item ODT provides a glorious photo of the unfinished.

    ### ODT Online Sat, 1 Mar 2014
    College work continues
    By Shawn McAvinue
    Work continues on the University of Otago building project at Toroa College in Regent Rd, North Dunedin. Twenty more bedrooms and a new common room would be provided, university property services director Barry MacKay said.
    Read more

  5. Anonymous

    Don’t know what the problem is. That’s totally in keeping with surroundings, the tilt-slab concrete.

  6. Elizabeth

    Shall we name the project managers ?

    ### ODT Online Tue, 5 Aug 2014
    College costs blow out after error
    By Vaughan Elder
    The University of Otago’s upgrade and expansion of Toroa College has gone over budget by more than $580,000. University council papers from last month showed between January and the end of May it had spent $1.781 million on the Regent Rd project against a budget of $1.2 million. […] The ballooning costs were due to ”an error made on the cost estimates for this project”, the report said.
    Read more

  7. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Mon, 11 Aug 2014
    Toroa College $1m budget blowout
    By Vaughan Elder on Mon, 11 Aug 2014
    The cost of the University of Otago’s upgrade and expansion of Toroa College has blown out further – it is now almost $1 million over budget. Papers for the university council’s meeting tomorrow show that between January and the end of June, $2.354 million was spent on the Regent Rd project against a budget of $1.3 million for the period. This meant the project – which was completed in May – was more than $1 million over budget for the year.
    Read more

    Image via Baker Garden Architects:!Toroa-College-Complete/c21yt/7B74A093-AC0B-4257-A509-E25EC5C39CE2

    Toroa College [detail via] 1Toroa College, 8 Regent Road - before redevelopment [Google Streetview]Toroa College Expansion - Baker Garden Architects  [via]Toroa College, 8 Regent Road (from top): under construction [detail via], before redevelopment [Google Streetview], render by Baker Garden Architects [via]

  8. Elizabeth

    University won’t name the quantity surveying company. Publicly funded university, transparency, accountability ??

    ”The quantity surveyor has been spoken to and our understanding is that the staff member that made the mistake no longer works for [the firm].” –John Patrick, University of Otago

    ### ODT Online Wed, 13 Aug 2014
    Outside firm caused cost blow-out
    By Vaughan Elder
    A budget blow-out in the University of Otago’s upgrade of Toroa College was caused by a $1.335 million mistake made by a staff member of an external quantity surveying company. Further details of the blow-out were revealed at yesterday’s university council meeting.
    Read more

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