The Eye of the Fish

October 13, 2010

And the Winner is… Archaus

While we’re all waiting for the case of the hung mayoralty to be settled (due today – will it be Prendergast for a 4th or Wade-Brown with a 1st?),
Post-script: Just announced – We have a new Mayor. Celia Wade-Brown beat Kerry Prendergast by a total of 176, the closest mayoral race yet seen. End result: 24,881 to 24,705 votes. To be sworn in 27 October.
It seems that at least one developer is still having faith in the otherwise pretty stagnant property market.

Yes, the Te Aro Towers project appears to have made a comeback – originally it was to have been by Merge Developments, whoever they were (they’ve merged totally into the background now) and now it is someone new. Yes, yes, it is probably exactly the same people, just under a new name. And yes, yes, yes, it certainly is exactly the same scheme as was being touted around before.

There is a slight difference of course, in that it is now not so much Towers, as just a single Tower, but nothing much has happened except the rendering has been redone with a crisper DPI, and possibly a floor or so less in height. That is to say: there is a 9 storey height limit around here (27m) and this building is only 11 stories, instead of the 13 stories they were once showing. Clearly someone at either the Developers, the Planners, the Architects, or the Council can’t keep up a simple maths equation. 27m height limit really should mean a limit of 27m: Archaus show the height limit as 31.2m on their elevations, thereby taking an extra 4.2m as a given.

The plan of the building is still just the same – the developers still clearly believe that the old “two for the price of one” ruse will slip past the bankers, and persuade them that here we have a quality investment. I’m still pretty unconvinced: the theory is that because the banks will no longer loan money on shitty little apartments, then having a ‘dual’ apartment of one tiny flat and one slightly larger than tiny flat, will let the bank fund it as one purchase. Of course, as soon as the bank has closed the deal, the ‘canny’ investor will rent out the bolt hole to help cover the mortgage.

It is a plan that has been done before in Wellington, at the phenomenally crappy Duel on Vivian apartment building, where the bedroom going-ons of the poor cramped inhabitants are now on display to the students lounging on the grass of the newly reworked park across the road. There the apartments are so small that beds are pushed up against the windows, the graceless lack of height and proportion so evident in every move. I suspect that the result here in Te Aro will be much the same.

I’m…. disappointed.

Disappointed that after 2 years of market stagnation, a developer just trots out the same old schtick. Disappointed that after all the crap over bad property lending, a developer is still proposing more new property that is still just as bad. Disappointed that the new Urban Design Group, despite a couple of years of hiring and firing, are still unable to get better results for the city than this.

We deserve better than this in the capital.

13 - 10 - 10

No, the winner is…

Seamonkey Madness
13 - 10 - 10

I think one of the fishies had an excited flipper when updating the post about Celia’s win and went overboard with the strikeout. =)

13 - 10 - 10

Wow does that say 20m2 for the small apartment? Thats the size of a decent bedroom! What I like from the plan is that you can be sitting on the couch and making dinner in the kitchen!

To me balconies on apartment buildings are a waste of space. No one is going to use them in winter unless you’re a smoker, you just never see people use them. The 4 metres or so could be added into the internal space to try and make it more liveable. Why not use the roof (where you have some real space to play with) as a communal outdoor area?

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Statement from Mayor Kerry Prendergast, as posted on the WCC website:

“It has been a fantastic honour to be Mayor of Wellington for the past nine years. It has been the best job in the world, and I will miss it.

Congratulations to Celia Wade-Brown and to the Councillors elected. They have an enormously important task ahead of them as they seek to guide Wellington through some potentially very difficult times.

It goes without saying that I am tremendously disappointed at the outcome of the election. But I congratulate Celia and sincerely wish her all the very best for the huge job she now faces.

After working 12-hour days for nine years, it will be a huge change for me and it will take me some time to get used to it.

I would like to pay tribute to the councillors and staff I have worked with since joining Wellington City Council in 1989, and particularly since I became Mayor in 2001. There have been disagreements and differing views, but together we have made many bold and innovative decisions that have helped transform this city from the grey bureaucratic town it was into the diverse and exciting place we know today.

I would like to thank the many people in other organisations, businesses and in the community at large for their support, their hard work and enthusiasm in making Wellington such a fantastic place to live and visit.

I would like to thank my family, who have had to share me with the city of Wellington for a long time. If there is any consolation to be had, it is in the fact that I can now spend more time being a wife, mother and grandmother.

I would like to thank my campaign team and all those who have shown faith in me over the years by giving me their votes. I have done my very best for Wellington and I believe the city is in great shape and can face the challenges of the future with confidence.

I would also like to thank my office staff, who have worked tirelessly alongside me to make my life run as smoothly as possible.

I am not sure what my future will hold but I will take a few days to reflect and consider where to from here.”

13 - 10 - 10

What strikeout? Whadd’d I do wrong?

13 - 10 - 10

for some reason, i am sceptical… this empty lot seems destined to remain muddy and free from apartments for now…

a casual glance through trademe’s apartment rental and for sale pages shows me that no bank in their right mind would get involved with yet another compact urban development when there’s literally hundreds of identical overpriced boxes remaining unfilled across the city….

oh i lament the loss of the forest and bird building… sigh

as for the new mayor… light rail and a focus on heritage protection… that will make for some interesting eye of the fish discussions down the track.

13 - 10 - 10

Regarding Celia: Yay! :)

Regarding 20m^2 apartments: boo! :(

Are minimum apartment sizes a bad idea? Is it considered too much interference in the market or does it often result in some unintended negative consequences or something? Or is it not within the power of the city council to set such a thing? I would have thought that setting a minimum size of say 40m^2 for a studio and 45m^2 for a single bedroom would be completely reasonable.

13 - 10 - 10

sav>To me balconies on apartment buildings are a waste of space.

Don’t see the point in Welly, unless you want access to an inexpensive wind tunnel to test developmental aircraft or something. But I had one when I lived in Northern Australia and it was a great place for a hammock.

Where are Te Aro Towers supposed to be built?

14 - 10 - 10

davidp – to be built on the old Forest and Bird Site, corner of Taranaki and Wigan.

Title of the post was on purpose. Archaus really is an absolute winner in terms of staying on top of things. The recession is barely over, and they have a developer erecting the Tattoo studios, and another looking at getting at least one of the Te Aro Towers up. That’s a pretty good success rate – most other developers have gone to ground / gone to jail / gone to Australia.

Sigh… I just wish that we had a better class of building proposed for one of Wellington’s grandest Avenues. Former Mayor Kerry once said that it would be a boulevard of trees one day – I’d quite like a boulevard of fine buildings, not the avenue of complete shite we have at present.

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Now look… it might not be the Champs de Taranaki, but I really think that you could be a bit nicer about the boulevard of dreams. There’s the Wesley Church and its pohutukawas, and the barracks, and a nice aspect of the Carillon. There’s an example of Winstones’ best stressed concrete at the Film Archive and there’s traces of Chinatown by Murdoch’s Pink Pickle Palace. There are significantly fewer car yards than there used to be.

We can’t all live on Barrett’s Reef, you know.

14 - 10 - 10

Taranaki St has potential, but right now it’s not a nice street to walk (or cycle) on at all. Way too many revving cars, not nearly enough trees, and now these godawful el cheapo apartment blocks…

Te Aro needs trees. If we’re going to house people in apartment blocks like these, they need to be able to see trees outside.

Maybe the new mayor will do something about this? Fingers crossed they plant trees in Te Aro.

I would also like to see is proper pavement along streets like Taranaki not just slabs of the usual NZ asphalt. It might be good enough for Levin but it really lets Wellington down – are we not rich enough to afford it?

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“are we not rich enough to afford it?”

Ask yourself that when you pay your rates/rent bills…

And those car yards will be back before long too – the only way to avoid that is to let developers develop the land quickly, and that probably would mean more design gems like the Te Aro Towers of course…

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The bottom end of Taranaki St always feels too wide to me. South of Vivian St it is a busy main route, but most of that traffic seems to turn on to either Vivian St or the bypass. I think there is ample scope for narrowing the harbour end of Taranaki St without making any adverse impact on traffic. I doubt it is ever going to be the sort of street you’d want to use for alfresco dining, but a few trees and a bit of street art might be nice.

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Oh, and I’m not too bothered by things like car yards in Te Aro. They’re like Chaffers New World… a low rise development that doesn’t block the light or people’s view lines. I don’t want wall to wall car yards, and the one that used to be opposite Te Papa looked like a giant waste of a prime site. But the area needs a mix of low and medium density uses to give us a sense of space.

I LOVE East Village!!!
28 - 10 - 10

Proposal Would Limit Building Heights…

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