Antony Gough reveals sneaky quake tactics

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 12:12 15/08/2014
antony gough
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON
ANTONY GOUGH

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Antony Gough caused a fair amount of trouble for authorities after the February 2011 earthquake. 

The property investor turned developer revealed his sneaky activities at an executive forum series hosted by the University of Canterbury on Thursday.

He told the packed meeting room not to take no for an answer and listed examples of when he had successfully challenged authority in the past, particularly after the earthquakes. 

He gained temporary unpaid employment with a demolition company to get access to one of his damaged central city buildings. He also convinced his engineers to do another inspection of a property with the sole purpose of rescuing his computer servers.

He managed to obtain the first month-long pass into the CBD red zone and became the ''naughty person who would go into town and take photos''.

Gough also took credit for the reopening of Cathedral Square. The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) believed the area was too dangerous and would likely remain closed to the public for three years. 

''I told them there was no way that was going to happen... I broke the rules and got the square reopened.''

As the unpaid employee of a demolition company, he was able to pack up luggage left behind by guests at the Poplars Apartment Hotel and spent thousands of dollars shipping it around the world.

Gough had original plans for some of the city's heritage buildings and had used them as art in hotel apartments.

''There was a medical delivery truck that happened to stop outside and he happened to have a rug in his van and the pictures ended up under it.''

His brother's office on Hereford St contained valuable antiques and after begging Cera for access Gough was finally granted one hour to be craned into the building and empty out the top floor. 

''I took 15 people with me and we emptied it out in an hour... [Cera officials] were so shocked when they came to check on us but I just said, 'you never told me I couldn't take 15 people'.''

Under the cover of night he drilled a hole through a damaged building to salvage clothing patterns and lay-by items for a central city business owner, Gough said.

Gough said he asked Cera to share its plans for the Avon River precinct so he could work on a complimentary design for his Oxford Tce development. 

''This answer was of course, 'I'm sorry Mr Gough but that's confidential'... so we created a plan and put it to them and 'surprise surprise' they decided to use some of it.''

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He also revealed more detail about The Terrace development, which stalled earlier this year as tenant requirements, design and costings were reviewed. 

The bank had asked him to create some equity so he currently had a tender out for a car parking building.

Valuers and bankers were the most pessimistic people in the world, he said, and trying to get them to ''believe in the vision'' was difficult.

''The bank is saying vacant land [owned by Gough] is worth nothing... so I'm going to build one-storey buildings and let them out at $750 a square metre... to prove income.

''The [Christchurch Central Development Unit] blueprint requires me to have two storeys on the street frontage... so you know what I'm going to do? It's called a facade.''

- The Press

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