Tag Archives: Dismantling

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.

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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…

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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

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Letter from Christchurch 2 #eqnz

UPDATED

Today’s Press has more examples of high-handed action.

The Piko Whole-Foods Co-op store – an important social and architectural landmark – had its top storey removed before the owners knew what was going to happen. The heritage team at Christchurch City Council worked with the owners to try and stop the demolition but the top floor had already gone by the time they got there and its landmark value has been completely destroyed. The building had been earthquake strengthened within the past few years and though it did have some serious damage it is far from clear that it was beyond repair.

It had the misfortune to be sited on a major intersection of the one way system and we all know that free movement of cars must be put ahead of buildings. There was absolutely no question of people being in the building and thorough shoring up should have ensured public safety.

There is some sort of process for group 1 & 2 listed buildings, plus NZHPT registered buildings – a cursory sort of report by the heritage planners (they are so overwhelmed that the reports are completely perfunctory) – and a report from the NZHPT and/or council engineer, but the Civil Defence Controller has the final say.

I am not sure that NZHPT is fighting too hard anyway from what I can gather – because people have been killed (mainly in modern buildings) they seem to have taken the view that they can’t push hard for heritage.

If the owner can be identified (not always easy) they might be given 24 hours notice so have a chance to argue for a delay. If buildings are unlisted and simply make an important contribution to the character of a precinct, no process is required at all. Nothing at all can be done to try and avert demolition.

There seems to have been some agreement made between Civil Defence and the council staff involved with Civil Defence, that no cordons to protect the public from buildings needing repair will be put in place if they would encroach into a road – as long as they take that view not much will be saved.

As a result of tonight’s meeting a delegation of heritage advocates and business people are going to try and meet the Civil Defence Controller tomorrow to urge a slow down, but whether they will even be granted an appointment is far from certain.

We are meeting again on Friday to plan our next steps, especially if the appeal to the Controller fails to have any impact. The scary thing is the Government can just keep on extending the state of emergency.

{Letter received by What if? on Tuesday, 8 March 2011 11.24pm. Names removed to protect identities. -Eds}

(9.00am) What if? learned the group has been granted a meeting today with the Civil Defence Controller.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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Letter from Christchurch – it’s bad

WHAT DO RED STICKERS MEAN NOW?

Just had a long and rather unpleasant shake as I began to write. I am not certain how many demolitions have taken place with independent engineering advice that the buildings are OK. I know of one definite case in Lyttelton and we had a very close call with the Tunnel building. Transit had the diggers in place ready to demolish. A tenant alerted a friend who got on to NZHPT who actually got their engineer onto the case promptly. He said the damage was minor and Transit backed down (probably because they have a memo of understanding with NZHPT).

In the CBD owners have of course been unable to get independent experts in but decisions are being made to demolish simply because buildings have been red-stickered. The red sticker means they are unsafe to enter as it stands – it should not mean automatic demolition. It involves no judgement as to whether the building could be restored if appropriate shoring up took place. At present owners are being given 24 hours notice that a building is going to be demolished with little possibility of influencing the decision and no chance to recover possessions.

I will try to get more details on the process or lack of it at a meeting I am going to tomorrow. We have received calls from a number of distressed owners who have valuable property in buildings which they believe can be restored but who fear that they will lose both building and contents without being able to do anything about it.

The general approach seems to be that any reasonably undamaged buildings in a block are just a nuisance and will slow down the process of clearance – that it is more efficient to clear out everything (this is the view of somebody working hard to prevent listed buildings from being demolished).

Another reason behind the demolition of red-stickered buildings is that the demolition companies apparently get the materials and contents as salvage – so we have been informed by an antique shop owner who defied the red stickers (in a suburban area) in order to recover stock ahead of the demolition crews.

I will try to get more details to you tomorrow, it is clear that there are owners who want to restore their buildings but are simply being told they have to come down and that is that.

{Names removed, letter received by What if? on Tuesday 12.07am. -Eds}

“DEMOLITION CREWS, THEY’RE WORSE THAN THE LOOTERS.”

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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