Tag Archives: Salvage

Adding duress, Christchurch #eqnz

WHAT IF? CORRECTION

This post has been changed on receipt of information from Christchurch to confirm The Press mis-reported which building had been demolished in Hereford Street.

On Friday, a week-long moratorium on demolition was announced for Christchurch, a pause… it didn’t save the Old Trust and Loan building,
and the Olympia building.

Copy supplied:

“Unfortunately Saggio di Vino has gone and they had done so much to try and save it since the first quake. The most appalling thing though is that as well as demolishing the old Trust and Loan building over the weekend – an important Mountfort commercial building, which was badly damaged and probably had to come down, but should have been taken apart carefully – they also demolished the strengthened Olympia building next door which housed Vivace, a popular café.

The owner was not notified, even though he was known and had been part of the delegation. He is furious. They had told Civil Defence that they wanted to get out equipment and the Olympia was not dangerous at all.

All the books in the bookstore on the top floor were destroyed as well, so two tenants have had their livelihoods destroyed in the process of taking down a strengthened and largely undamaged building. It also took them ages to destroy the built-in safe (and what was inside it) from the Trust and Loan.

In the process of this demolition of the pair of buildings they also knocked a hole in the wall of Shands Emporium, the little wooden commercial building next to the NZHPT Southern Regional Office building (Shands was wrongly reported in The Press as having come down).

So much for the moratorium. Was it over-ruled from above or by council officers, some of whom it seems have considerable sway over what has been happening.

The owner of the above buildings who been very responsible about strengthening his buildings has also been denied permission to bring his engineer and builder into the city to ensure that ones which are still standing can be shored up to stop further damage happening from the aftershocks. Because they are not listed – but make an important contribution to the character of the city – they could be pulled down with not even the cursory process which applies for listed buildings.”

Anyone reading this has to think, unhappily, on the one hand ’emergency powers’, on the other ‘sick process’. Buildings will have to come down – the wrong people are making some ad hoc ‘demolition’ decisions. Why are they so uninformed, is it Brownlee up their backs? These particular decision makers, on the hoof, are another blight on Christchurch which already suffers too much.

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16 March 2011 The Press has made a correction to this item (in italics here).

### thepress.co.nz Last updated 05:00 15/03/2011
Business people want answers
By Olivia Carville
A Christchurch business owner was shocked yesterday when he learnt his central-city building had been demolished. Peter Scalia, who ran Fortuna Books from Shands Emporium on Hereford St, said neither he nor the building owner or leaseholder had been warned of Sunday’s demolition.

“I want to know who authorised it and why we weren’t contacted. If they can demolish the building I was in without any notification, are they going to do it to other buildings?” he said.

Shands Emporium is still standing. Fortuna Books was part of Shands Emporium but in a separate building.

Scalia registered as a central-city business owner last week to gain access to the building and retrieve essential items. However, he said he never heard from authorities.

“I did everything I knew to do. I am really surprised I didn’t even get called before they bowled it. If they had of given me five minutes in there, I could have grabbed my safe, my passport and other documents. Why was it demolished yesterday, why could it not have been tomorrow? I could have been in there today.”
Read more

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Related post:
8.3.11 LostArtChch website to identify items at risk #eqnz

Posted 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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