It’s all go down on the waterfront this week: the news keeps flying thick and fast, and we just can’t keep up with the flow! But we’ll try: here’s a catch-up.

First there was the news that the Wharves were falling down – with DomPost giving that story more face time than the war against the Tamils – and a doleful looking Mr Pike lost in a field of rotting wharf timbers. It’s nice to have someone with a Fishy name like Pike in charge of the waterfront: it sounds like he’s in tune with the water and us Fishes. Apparently the old wharves like the Outer T and the Waterloo wharf have gone well past the end of their structural and economic lives, and the woodworm and barnacles have had a field day – there’s more barnacle than wood down there.

Then there was the quick follow up news to that – the Outer T is to have a competition after all. Hooray! At last! Democracy! Although, long time grumpy old-folks party Waterfront Watch is apparently suspicious of the Council’s motives. They’ve been moaning for years that the Council hasn’t had a competition, and now they’re moaning that the Council may just be going to have one. “Pauline Swann of Waterfront Watch says the criteria for the Outer-T design competition are so vague she doesn’t see how it’s even a competition.” reports the Capital Times.

“We really hope this is the sincere effort to consult with the public, but we have concerns… This proposal cannot be a so-called competition. No specific designs are required and there is incomplete information available on the costs of repiling. There is no commitment by the WCC or possibility of a winner.”

Despite Swann’s previous idea for the Outer T to be a Winter-Garden type greenhouse, which seems to me to be one of the more silly ideas, she does have a point here. To be frank: no one knows what to do with the Outer T, and now it is falling down and will either have to be repaired at great cost, or just closed off and left to rot. But quite some time ago the Waterfront Framework said that the Outer T should be the subject of a competition, and although the Council seemed curiously reluctant to let the public have any say there: at last there will be. Details soon. Hot off the Press? They’re so hot we’re not even sure we’re meant to have them yet. But here they are, straight from the Council website on the back of a set of old minutes:

We will be taking your ideas very seriously.
What we want from you?
• We want anyone who has an idea to send it to us: you might be an interested group, someone with expertise, a design class or student, or someone who simply walks the waterfront.
• You need to provide an outline of your concept in no more than two A4 pages.
• We are seeking ideas, not designs, but feel free to include a sketch or line diagram to support your idea.
• There is no public vehicular access to the Outer‐T.
• The wharf piles require substantial strengthening, which is both a structural and financial constraint.
• View shafts need to be considered.
• Any structure needs to take into account the adjacent heritage buildings and its bulk and form should fit with the existing buildings.
• Any structure needs to create shelter for the inner wharf.
• Any idea needs to allow for ships to berth at the outer wharf.
• You should consider the financial viability of any idea.
• Your idea should be a ‘people magnet’ and attract fellow citizens and visitors to the Outer‐T.
• Any development on the waterfront is governed by the Waterfront Framework. This document clearly outlines the vision, values and principles that guide all waterfront developments.

The Outer T is the last place in central Wellington to get evening sunlight, and the current old sheds are a waste of space. It was always a silly place to propose a hotel, where rich people want to sleep in peace and quiet, as it is the home for noisy drunken city boys who like to party late into the night. But at the very least, it would be a great place for a bar, drowning your sorrows, watching the sun go down over the skyline. Trouble is, that won’t pay the bill. So: ideas please!

Then today, two more Waterfront news items. The Hilton is back in the picture, so it seems, sifting around in the background to find the perfect site for its proposed Wellington Hilton. Personally I thought the Hilton name had long since lost its cachet, given that white trash bogan princess Paris still brandishes the family name like a limp celery stick slapping across the face of the world’s media. But apparently die-hard Hiltonites won’t come to Wellywood unless the name Hilton appears on their itinerary, and so a Hilton there must be.

Dompost front page news yesterday was that the Hilton chain were looking at possible sites such as the empty carpark land at Kumutoto; or the ancient and decrepit Overseas Passenger Terminal before it slides under the waves; or the increasingly deathly-looking former Rialto site, once destined as home for the Watermark luxury apartments. There must be better places than those – and sites that other developments haven’t already been extensively planned for. I’m not going to give away Hilton’s secret hiding place, but surely there are far better sites than those three, just waiting to be picked like a ripe plum.

And now for some good news: Wellington is to get a weekend waterfront gourmet food market very soon. Hooray! That should put a smile back on Mr Pike’s face, even if it doesn’t give him piles.

New Food Market for Culinary Capital – The City Market – a new weekly food and wine market showcasing local artisan products and producers – opens on Sunday 14 June. Situated alongside the existing Waitangi Park outdoor market, the City Market is championed by award-winning chef Martin Bosley and Rachel Taulelei of local food company Yellow Brick Road. The market will bring a stellar line-up of local artisan food and beverage producers together under one roof at Chaffers Dock Function Centre. It will also feature wine tastings, event previews, chef demonstrations, and entertainment.

The City Market will run every Sunday between 8.30am and 12.30pm in the atrium at the Chaffers Dock Function Centre. The market is being promoted as a non-profit organisation, with all proceeds from sales going directly to stallholders. Yum. Sounds great to me.

I’m sure there’s more news to come. We haven’t had an update on the Chinese Garden for a while, and the whole of Frank Kitts park is still looking tawdry, but it’s still all busy down there. Even in mid-winter, it seems, the waterfront is the place to be.

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