The Eye of the Fish

July 13, 2015

University to demolish apartments?

There was an article in the paper the other day, how Victoria University had bought, and was going to demolish, the “Gordon Wilson flats”. Apparently they are structurally unsound and so deserve demolition. If removed, “It is envisaged that the site would be Victoria’s front door to the city and provide a safe and attractive public pedestrian link route between the University and the City.”

Now that sounds like quite an interesting proposition. A front door at the top of Ghuznee St – and just imagine – a lift going straight up to the heights at Kelburn? What a great idea – maybe not a lift even, but some stairs up, or a really long, fast escalator – or a slide for coming back down again! Yes!

Or, I guess, a cable car. Why do we have only one ?

Only thing is – I don’t know what building they are talking about. I thought they meant the Dixon St flats at first – which surely would raise some howls of outrage if that was proposed to be demolished – but no, the report definitely called them the Gordon Wilson flats. There are a couple of apartment blocks nearby, at the south end of the Terrace. Is it one of these? I thought they were called McLean flats? Or maybe they’re not. Can anybody advise?

Thanks for the clarifications Andy and Pauline – I thought that whole development (ie both buildings) was called the McLean flats, and I couldn’t figure out where the Gordon Wilson flats were. I’ll include a couple of photos in case any one else is confused (perhaps it is just me?) but I am also intrigued by the Uni’s assertion that one day they will have the old flats site as a “front door” to the city. I’ve done a quick pic, based of an aerial maps pic, which indicates two possible routes. Who knows what they are thinking of? They could go straight up the middle, or could angle left up to the new “Gateway” building that is under construction on Kelburn Parade – or perhaps they would prefer to aim more northerly, towards the older parts of the University. Either way, one day, it could be an interesting project.

Andy Foster
13 - 07 - 15

Hi Levi

Tried a couple of copy and pastes for a photo for you – didn’t work
Just google ‘Gordon Wilson Flats’ – it is the big block on the Terrace – was Housing NZ – evacuated because EQ prone – the University bought it last year. Here’s an article – one of several from the DomPost.Keep up the great work.

Warmest regards

Andy Foster
Chair – Transport and Urban Development
Wellington City

The crumbling Gordon Wilson flats in central Wellington have been sold to Victoria University.

The Housing New Zealand building has towered over The Terrace since 1959 but could now be demolished.

Housing New Zealand chief executive Glen Sowry and the university’s vice-chancellor, Professor Grant Guilford, announced the sale yesterday.

The flats, at 314 The Terrace, once housed 131 people. They were evacuated in May 2012 after engineers found the building’s concrete facade could collapse in an earthquake or strong wind.

Since then the flats have lain empty as Housing NZ worked out what to do with them.

The university has been attracted by the location of the site – directly below its Kelburn campus buildings – and negotiations have been under way for some time.

Guilford said a development of the site would link Kelburn with The Terrace and the central city, but there were no firm plans on what would eventually be built.

“We’ve got a lot of work to go through, but you can imagine some of the possibilities and we’ve got a number of things in mind,” he said.

“You could possibly have a series of buildings stepping up to the Kelburn campus, bringing students safely through from The Terrace.”

Whether the Gordon Wilson building would be demolished was a decision to make after consultation, he said. “If the consensus of the community was that the building shouldn’t be there, it would certainly suit our views.”

That decision would be taken first, during the next few months, before any new plans were drawn up.

The university has other development projects at both its Kelburn and Pipitea campuses, which would take priority over the newly bought site, he said.

Housing NZ retains ownership of the smaller McLean complex, also quake-prone and evacuated in 2011.

Sowry said McLean’s 18 flats would be demolished and replaced by a new complex, potentially with 34 flats focused on one-bedroom apartments.

The McLean building was assessed by engineers at only 3 per cent of new building standard, making it red-stickered. “It has a very, very low earthquake rating and it’s not going to be economic to repair it.”

– The Dominion Post

14 - 07 - 15

These ones

15 - 07 - 15

Three per cent ! Wow, that’s dodgy. I can definitely see why no one is sticking their hand up to say it should be repaired.

17 - 07 - 15

I must say that the idea of draping the campus down the hill towards upper Willis has appealed to me since they ignored the opportunity provided by the derelict dental school. Surely the property prices were (and still are) much more attractive around Te Aro West than at Pipiteia. Shifting the focus uptown might even generate savings enough for a funicular.