Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Building rumours 2: 218-228 Cuba St

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First of all, some updates on previous rumours.

According to yesterday's DomPost, Chris Parkin actually sold the A-mart site a few days before the fire. So, it's unlikely to become an extension of the adjacent Museum Hotel (yes, that was the Mystery Bar), but questions remain: who now owns it, and what are the plans?

The DomPost also confirmed that the apartment development on the former Settlement site (that I was so snarky about before) is going ahead. It will be 12 storeys, with 80 hotel rooms, 24 three-bedroom apartments, 6 office suites, 44 duplex apartments with attached offices, and retail at ground level. In that respect, it's a paragon of mixed use in a part of town that suits high density. But why does it have to be so pig ugly?

The comments on my previous Building Rumours post suggest that the Vivian/Jessie St site will be temporarily used for a car park before being turned into a multi-purpose community facility by the Salvation Army next door. We also got a hint that the Victoria/Walter St site will be a Master Trades showroom, and it looks like 301 Willis St will become a HirePool. What was that about the end of light industry in Te Aro?

Now it's time to ask the gravevine about another site that's seeing some preliminary activity. As I mentioned last year, the large site at 218-228 Cuba St was being promoted as "an outstanding development opportunity in the heart of the fashionable and growing Cuba Street precinct ... present[ing] a multitude of development angles including retail, office, apartments and parking development."

So what do we now have in the heart of this fashionable street? A branch of El Cheapo cars!

(temporary?) El Cheapo cars on Cuba St
There hasn't been a lot of structural work done for this (a fence and a Portacabin, to be precise), recently there have been stories about tough times for the used car industry, and their website doesn't mention a Cuba St branch. All of which suggests to me that this is only a temporary situation and that other plans may be in the offing. Does anyone have any hints about what might be planned for the site? And will the famous Wellington Trawling Sea Market survive?


At 9:33 am, August 30, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

rumour has it, there will be an apartment building built to max-height with retail at ground floor....

At 10:11 am, August 30, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

So that's 27m, or about 6 storeys. Hmm. If it's one big lump up to that height across the whole 1800 sq m, it could be rather overpowering. If it's more carefully modulated (say, stepped down to 3-4 storeys at the street edge) it could be much more appropriate.

At 11:26 am, August 30, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

According to the latest central area building heights map (1.2MB PDF), anywhere north of Ghuznee and west of Taranaki is within the 43.8m height limit zone. The guide interprets this as 10 storeys, though that seems to imply very generous stud heights (or is intended to mollify the public).

The site is still being advertised, with tenders closing on 20 Sep. The image of a 14-storey building there is (almost illegibly) labelled as a "height concept illustration only": i.e. "this is what you can get away with without a notified consent".

I have to say though, that the "height concept" is actually a hell of a lot better looking than some of the actual buildings that have gone up or are in progress, including the "pugly" Settlement building. And yep, I'd assume that anything for $140k must be tiny: you can peer in the Settlement window for the floor plans if you're curious. They might be even cheaper if they didn't have the tacky pseudo-colonial detailing on the top.

At 10:06 am, August 31, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of rumours, the For Sale placard outside Il Casino has disappeared. Anyone heard anything? Or did I miss it?

At 12:50 pm, September 01, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

and don't you find it even stranger that a few days after Parking sells his site, the building burns down? Sounds like a Triad war is starting !

At 8:02 pm, September 02, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to today's Dominion Post (business/property section), the A-Mart has been sold to the company that owns New World (I think it is called Foodstuffs) and they plan to open a liquor store. I cannot remember the name, but there is one in Porirua (?), so maybe they are trying to start a chain.

At 1:35 pm, September 03, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

Thanks Gordon. Yes, Foodstuffs has bought the building, and plans to refurbish it as a branch of their new Duffy & Finns chain of liquor megastores, opening about the middle of next year. While I'm sad to see A-mart go, the plans for glass shopfronts and a verandah along Cable St could make for a more pedestrian-friendly environment. I'm also wary of "big box" hains in the city, but hey, it's booze!

Foodstuffs is still talking of a multistorey retail and apartment complex on the site, but they'll take several years to plan it. Interestingly, they're also quoted as saying that the adjacent New World will get a big refurbishment in 2007. Any chance that they'll relocate to the western half of the site and reopen the viewshaft down Cambridge Tce?


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