By: Mike Hosking | Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Sir Bob Jones’ article in the Listener is worth a read. He pitches Christchurch as a lake town. Why? Because most great cities have lakes.
But he’s also realistic about the CBD – it’s dead. Most of it’s gone and it’s ludicrous to try and rebuild it. The cost is too high, you can’t get insurance and even if you did build, no one could afford the rent you’d have to charge to cover the cost.
He also cites cities that have been rebuilt in recent times and they have all been done at the hand of authoritarian Governments. In other words not in free market countries like ours.
He’s not sentimental either. Christchurch’s CBD was dying anyway. People had moved to the suburbs so all the emotive reminiscing you hear is built largely on delusion. Downtown Christchurch wasn’t flash. So seize the day, flag rebuilding it
and try something new.
The lake he’s got in mind is massive, it’s man made and would have a freeway running around it. The lake would have fish and swans and boating - no motor boats, but yachts and rowing. The cathedral, he says, is in the middle of it lit up at night. The grass is around the edge and land owners in the current CBD would be given a piece depending on their current stake. They would build and it could be stand alone because you don't need a lot of other buildings the way a current CBD would. The lake view would convince people to rent the space. You’d have apartments built, all low rise, because once again you don't need other buildings. The lake view would sell them.
His argument is unless you do this, you’re looking to sort of replicate what you've had and given that wasn’t working anyway, it would be fool hardy to try and put back a broken model. Your city would slowly but surely die.
Cementing the thought process here, you must remember Bob knows a bit about commercial real estate. This isn’t some retiree who’s a bit bored, looking to float weird ideas. The bloke knows markets and rents and insurance and developers. He’s also a global thinker who’s travelled everywhere.
Even if you think his idea of a lake city is a bit out there, the importance of the contribution is that this is the sort of thinking that's required if Christchurch is to survive and prosper. An independent, impartial set of eyes to see things those immersed in the place can’t. To deliver the sometimes stark truth on projects and plans that are simply nonsensical, whether on cost or design or emotion.
Bob’s idea might not be the whole answer, but critically he sees the rebuild as a blank sheet and that’s the best place to start. And he’s not afraid to walk away from things that didn't work.
Photo: Edward Swift
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Can it be a surprise to anyone that Sir David Carruthers has found the poli ...
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
The numbers don’t appear to lie or in this case even mislead - there ...
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Well praise the Lord, do we see some common sense at last in the teachers&r ...
Monday, May 20, 2013
There is allegedly an announcement coming on feeding kids in schools. Curr ...
Friday, May 17, 2013
I know it's as dry as dust and none of us apart from the odd numbers nerd o ...
Thursday, May 16, 2013
The modern way of the budget isn’t as fun as it used to be - it&rsquo ...