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

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Building rumours 9: 18 Lorne St

Unlike the previous building rumour, in this case I have no idea what the buildings planned for 18 Lorne St will look like. Earlier this year consent was granted (40kB PDF) "to demolish existing building and construct two mixed use buildings for retail use, residential accommodation and carparking", and demolition is now well under way.

Old industrial building being demolished in Lorne St, Wellington
Site netween Lorne and Tennyson streetsThe redevelopment of this site is no surprise, since it went on the market well over a year ago, and the mix of retail and housing should be very appropriate for a location a few metres from Moore Wilson. I'm not sure whether this development will cover all the land that was up for sale (a huge 2,463 sq m block spanning from Lorne to Tennyson St), but if it does, then the 27m height limit could allow for a major development. It has the potential to give a huge boost to the area or be a hideous lump, depending upon the skill of the architects and (more realistically) the intentions of the developer. Given some recent efforts, I'm a bit nervous about the prospects.

Can any of my readers shed some light on this? How much of the greater site is being used, and how high will it go? In particular, is this old industrial building being completely demolished, or just gutted in preparation for conversion? I'd like to think that an enlightened developer would retain it to give the complex some character, and to help maintain a scale and historical relationship with the neighbourhood. It's the sort of robust and chunky old factory that could handle some fairly radical adaptation, along the lines of the Croxley Mills apartments, and such a development could fit in well with any new buildings on the block.

Demolition sign & graffiti in Lorne St, WellingtonEven if that were the case, Wellington would still be losing yet another specimen of an increasingly rare species: under-used old inner-city buildings that could provide cheap informal work or living space for artists, students, artisans and new businesses. This particular building may have been too far gone structurally (especially in light of new earthquake standards) to have ever provided safe accommodation without expensive strengthening work, but it's a worrying trend. I welcome the increase in inner-city living, but we need to give some thought to retaining the diversity that has made central Wellington an interesting place to live.

One way might be to place an outright ban on demolishing any existing buildings, except for temporary structures and single-storey big-box retail, until all the vacant land, car yards and Briscoes' have been built on. That will allow for several thousand new residents in Te Aro, while preserving potential studio space, and with any luck when the time has come for them to be redeveloped, some other buildings would have become old and cheap enough to maintain the supply. Will it work? I've no idea, but other than hoping for a recession (which I've heard some people suggesting), it's one of the few ways that I can think of to stop the phrase "Creative Capital" becoming even more of joke than it is now.


At 4:22 pm, March 06, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there any news on where the Warehouse is going in central wellington? I had wondered if they would look to set up in the old DEKA store on the corner of Ghuznee and Cuba, but apparently Sounds Music are looking at that for a "concept" store (something like a Virgin Megastore??).

At 4:40 pm, March 06, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you mean Dixon & Cuba Mall? There are no large buildings on the corner of Ghuznee & Cuba that I can think of.

Either site would be an absolutely terrible place for a big red shed.

At 5:02 pm, March 06, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

If it's the old DEKA, then that's definitely Dixon & Cuba. It's going to form part of the crazy Walker/Serepisos development (here and here), and since that's supposed to be mixed use, a music megastore on the ground floor doesn't sound too farfetched.

If we have to have a red shed in the city, I'd much rather it were more in the "SoCo" section of southeast Te Aro, and preferably part of a mixed-use development than a big stand-alone box.

At 9:39 am, March 07, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry yes, I meant Dixon/Cuba corner.

Im not sure i have faith in a company like Sounds to pull off something like a Virgin Megastore, but would be an interesting use for that corner - and much better than a red shed in Cuba Mall.

At 11:07 am, March 07, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few weeks ago I walked past this site when no one seemed to watching (there were security guards there, but they seemed more engrossed in chat). It was really just a glorified pigeon roost (and hundreds had been culled judging by the wastebins full of dead fowl). I went by just the other day and saw that it had been completely gutted. Glad I got these in:


Thanks again Tom for your watchful eye and keeping readers up on local demolition/development.

At 7:27 pm, March 07, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I previously mentioned, the old Vivian St Mitre 10 seems an obvious choice. Or possibly the old Repco in Tasman St - that was supposedly earmarked for a city Pak N Save not too long ago.

I've noticed that Mr Chan's/A-mart has closed up again. There was a note on the front door directing all enquiries to a lawyer's address. Sounds ominous to me.

At 9:08 am, March 08, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Sad news about Mr Chan's: the one in the new location always seemed a bit touch-and-go.

As for Warehouse locations, and bringing it back on topic a bit, what about this Lorne St site? Plenty of room for a Warehouse on the ground floor, with several floors of apartments above.

At 1:53 pm, March 09, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think you may want to think about the big save furniture site on tory street for the new warehouse.....


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