The Eye of the Fish

Maximus
August 28, 2008

Property Council conference 08

Passing along the waterfront last night, on a wettish, cold, windy Wednesday evening, I was bemused to find Shed 5 packed to the gills with large men in suits – but then I remembered – of course – the Property Council of New Zealand is in town for their annual conference. The theme for this year is Building Succesful Cities, and so its interesting to see who they have speaking, and what they have planned to excite those giants of the NZ property owning world.

Wednesday started off with a range of corporate activities such as clay bird shooting, rifle shooting, golf, archery, sheep vs people, and axe throwing, followed up by a visit to the BNZ, a site tour of the new Chews Lane, cocktails at the Meridian Building, and then dinner at Shed 5. Personally, I would love to see the property moguls emulating sheep-dogs, but am somewhat wary of the fact that they’re being instructed in axe throwing (note to self: never combine axe-throwing with dwarf-throwing – it could get messy).

Thursday starts off with a welcome from Mayor Kerry Prendergast, and then speeches from Bob Carr (Aussie ex-premier), Roger Douglas (ex-labour MP, now ACT comeback act), Jim McClay (ex-Attorney General), Bill English (ex-leader of the National Party), and then a session on Green Buildings, all interspersed with copious food and drink of course. Apart from the last session, I’d say that’s a fairly fervently Right-Wing session stacked up there, although you could also argue that they’re all just a bunch of failed politicians. Not much room for women or left-leaning politics in there! Which of course is a fairly bluntly obvious direction change from our current political scene.

Friday appears to be more well-rounded, not just in the paunches of the attendees, but also in the programme – talks and discussions on Battling Red Tape, Urban Strategy, Creation of Vibrant Cities etc, with speakers including Stuart Niven (ex-WCC Urban Planner, now head of planning in Melbourne), Ernst Zolner (current, but soon to be ex-WCC Urban Planner), Ian Pike (Wellington Waterfront), Mark McGuiness (Willis Bond), and to me, somewhat bizarrely, Wayne Brown (currently Mayor of the Far North Council, and long-time thorn-in-the-side of Health Boards everywhere), and goodness me, a woman: Sue Simons (Partner at Ellis Gould). While Wayne and Sue (and others) will be battling Red Tape, especially discussing Auckland’s current messy ‘governance’, Niven, Pike, Zolner and others will be discussing how to make a vibrant city – of which of course Wellington is the best example around.

As far as I can tell, no architects have been invited to talk – what would they know about design anyway – but certainly Niven and Zolner have been successful in creating the right atmosphere for Wellington City to flourish, as well as Pike being the main force behind the redevelopment of Wellington’s waterfront into the enjoyable playground of spaces it is today. Let’s hope that Auckland business leaders and property developers start to take notice about the steps you need to take to turn a city around, into a place where you might want to go for a walk on a wettish, cold, windy Wednesday evening.

rondo
28 - 08 - 08

So, you going then? Wanna report back to us?

Maximus
28 - 08 - 08

No, entry fee is quite expensive – over a grand – and i don’t think bloggers get free Press passes.

Seamonkey Madness
28 - 08 - 08

Totally off topic, but the demolition crews have moved in on the vacant lot in front of Readings.

Any whispers of what might be going on?

mobsta
28 - 08 - 08

Off Topic reply:
Reading had planned an extension to their cinemas – there was going to be 10 ‘arthouse’ (read: small) theatres built.
Also some big box retail and a bowling alley (although ‘Lanes’ may have put paid to that….)

That was some time ago and because I hadn’t seen anything in a while I presumed it was shelved….

Anyone else?

DeepRed
28 - 08 - 08

The vacant lot behind Reading Cinemas (who are also the owners) has been rumoured to be an art house cinema for a while now. According to a recent resource consent report, it’s possibly being used for an interim car park, but I may be wrong.

KLK
28 - 08 - 08

Bob Carr isn’t right wing – he is leftie from the Australian Labor Party. And certainly not failed – longest (continuous) serving Premier in NSW history.

But I’m not sure he has the best of reputations when it comes to building a successful city. Alot of the Meriton Monstrosities you see round the city were, apparently, the result of a cosy relationship between the developer (Harry Triguboff) and Carr. And thats just the Meriton eyesores.

Most of “successful” Sydney was there long before he arrrived.

Maximus
28 - 08 - 08

KLK – you’re quite right that he is Labour, but then so was Roger Douglas, and look at the right wing politics he is espousing now – ACT are about as far right as you can go … well not really – i guess there’s also the National Front….

Arguably though, right wing politics are different when it comes to construction than in the social welfare arena. Ian Cassells, arguably, is a left-wing property developer, allowing room for all and lower budget tenancies. Krukzeiner, by comparison i guess, is more right wing – aiming for the very wealthy. Or am I wrong?? Is all property development right wing?

It is if you believe that property is theft. Lefebvre, and others, argue that the built environment is arguably a totally political situation, and so reject the ownership of property and the construction of buildings.

mobsta
28 - 08 - 08

I’m not sure that WHO you provide property for makes you Left or Right…

Both Cassells and Krukzeiner are in it to make money. Fullstop. End of story.
That tends to be a right wing construct, (but not always… I am sure there are left wing moneygrabbers out there also….)

So I would say that all Property Developers are capitalists and therefore, by nature, right wing.

I’m sure that if there was a developer that developed low cost housing, imposed rent controls, gave away apartments to the disenfranchised etc – that they could be labelled left wing.

Or are my idea of right at left at the fringes? rather than towards the centre?

KLK
28 - 08 - 08

A quick search on Carr at Wikipedia describes his State Government as “Centrist”….maybe thats the answer.

Maximus
29 - 08 - 08

Wouldn’t you say that this blurb from Cassell’s web page on the Wellington Company indicates his inclination:
“IAN CASSELS & CAITLIN TAYLOR
Directors & Shareholders of
The Wellington Company – Ian and Caitlin began developing property in Wellington in the early 1990s, concentrating on rejuvenating the pre-1960 buildings that the city had discarded and disowned long ago. It was this early passion for rebuilding and recreating a city’s culture and heritage that has grown into the underlying philosophy and drive of The Wellington Company as it is seen today.”

Possibly the more intriguing part of this is that one of the directors of the company is a woman. Almost unheard of in the property development world, to have a woman at the helm, even if she gets less press. Its not as though there is a fatwa in place in NZ against women developing property, but its certainly not that common. Any ideas why that my be?

Alex
29 - 08 - 08

Zollner is soon to be ex? That’s a shame, based purely on my few observations of his work. E.g articles linked on sites like this, and his replies to letters to the editor of the local rag.

rondo
29 - 08 - 08

Yes, Zollner has announced he’s going to be moving on to a government department. Hopefully he can continue to make useful inputs there…

arthur
30 - 08 - 08

re Seamonkey’s: “demolition crews have moved in on the vacant lot in front of Readings. Any whispers of what might be going on?”

Answer is: nothing. A bit of asphalting and back to carparking. I don’t think anything has gone in for Resource Consent yet, nor Building Consent, so I wouldn’t expect to see any action there for a year or two, or even more. But evidently the former car yard and hand car wash didn’t work out – so mere carparks it is – but it seems such a shame to leave such a high profile site with such a menial role.