So, them Mayans were wrong again. Ooops, don’t mention the end-of-the-world thing! Embarrassed silence all round from the end-of-the-world believers… Yep, the world is still here, the country is still here, and what is most important of all, the Eye of the Fish is still here. If you’re like me, having been tramping the wide open spaces, and swimming the seven seas over the holiday break, winging your way across the open skies, then the prospect of coming back to a pokey little building and having to sit inside while it is sunny outside is a cruel and inhuman form of torture. I’m feeling cramped!
Here at the Eye of the Fish International World Headquarters (Universal branch), we’re hopeful that this 2013 year is full of good things happening, instead of last year’s negativity and complete bloody waste-of-timery. We have, as one of our many readers commented last year (shoutout to DavidP who reminded us – thanks!), actually a whole heap of buildings on the go at last in Wellington. There is, in no particular order:
Clyde Quay Wharf – the rebuild by Athfield etc of the Overseas Passenger Terminal, that isn’t a Terminal at all. Nor does it have any passengers.
Il Casino – the Studio Pacific facadism number that will not feature a Casino. Nor Studio Pacific, apparently. And even the developer seems to have disappeared. And the website! Strange stuff. But at least it is going ahead. I think.
Elevate – the tall thing by Arch + in lower Taranaki St on the site of a former brother, the new building of which will (probably) not feature a Brothel. I think.
One Market Lane – the replacement for the Watermark, also by Studio Pacific. Definitely going ahead. Finally. At last. I think.
Yes, indeed, the common factor linking all those projects is that they are apartments for – let’s face it – rather wealthy owners. Little in the way of affordable housing there. We should review those buildings as they progress along – most of them are only just getting out of the ground. It is a good sign that the GFC effects and the ChCh Quakes may at last be lessening their impact on the Wellington apartment construction scene. Apartment building, apartment buying, and indeed apartment owning have all been in the doldrums over the last few years, what with the uncertainties of insurance levels skyrocketing and generally putting people off living skyhigh. It is therefore wonderful to see that these projects for new apartments are all going ahead, even if they are all aiming at pretty much the same target market of wealthy retirees. Perhaps in time the effect will ‘trickle down’ to us less wealthy individuals – the little fish of this world, rather than the big fish…
Then again there are other buildings just finished – the Peak – silly name – the white building by Archaus on the corner of Wigan and Taranaki. That’s not affordable building either – it’s just a damn shame. A much better effort by Archaus is underway – Canvas (which looks much the same as Tattoo) up on Willis St. Better value than the Peak (formerly Te Aro Towers). The new apartments next to Trinity in College St – I forget their name – which again was another project by the same developer as Il Casino. And then the Republic 2 apartments that I’ve been meaning to write about, down in one of those side streets off Cambridge Tce: Lorne St. And those new ones down on Oriental Parade, overlooking the Freyberg Pool. Quite a lot really, when you think about it.
What else is there going on around town? Anybody keen to report in? Lambton Square was progressing well last time I saw it, and will be finished soon, but there is not much signs of life yet around in the CBD. I’m picking a fair bit of rebuilding and strengthening will take place before too long. Thorndon always seems to be changing – the National Library is finished – or at least it is open again, even if it is not finished. I’ve been in there, but can’t figure out where they have hidden all the books. Not sure what the point of a Library is if you can’t see the books. Hmmm. Very odd.
So: time for us to blow our own trumpet and announce some 2013 predictions. While some will be scared of this year, what with the lucky number 13 in it, others will forge on ahead regardless. We’re going to make some architecturally-related predictions for 2013, such as:
1. Wellington City Council will make some unpleasant decisions about it’s property portfolio, and some buildings will get the demo order.
2. At least one private sector developer will go tits up and bite the bucket in 2013. Can’t go wrong there – there’s at least one every year…
3. The Government will close down or restructure the appallingly inefficient Weather-Tight Homes Resolution Service. With Joyce at the helm of MoBIE, he won’t be able to stand the lack of progress. Time for a stiff broom!
4. Roads of National Significance – at least one of these projects will take a major backwards step. Kapiti is getting hammered in the courts at the moment.
5. Kim Dot Com will be found innocent, or at least otherwise escape, and the NZ government will have to pay him damages – I estimate that Key et al could leave our country looking for at least $100 million for loss of business.
6. John Banks will still continue to not remember anything, but will never be elected to public office again, and he will be egged at least once.
7. Some prominent Wellington buildings will get demolished, rather than get strengthened and restored. The old T&G building was just the beginning.
8. Do we have local government elections this year? If so – expect some real changes. There’s a lot of dead wood in local government, especially in the WCC. Several councilors will get the axe – or certainly should get it.
9. New boy Kevin Lavery will get bad press from the day he arrives, and he will propose massive cuts to the WCC expenditure. Well, duh, that’s why the Council got him in, isn’t it? To do the unpleasant work for them, no?