'Messy' Gap Filler site should go
Gap Filler is a "backward" organisation that should be forced off the former Crowne Plaza Hotel site, Christchurch City Council has been told.
"Some people" see the Crowne Plaza site under Gap Filler as "messy" and "shanty style", public relations man David Lynch told city councillors recently.
The non-profit endeavour should be moved to a "bohemian" site somewhere near CPIT, he said. In an interview, Lynch described the Crowne Plaza site as "almost like a gypsy camp".
The comments mark one of the first public criticisms of Gap Filler since its creation after the September 2010 quake. It has enjoyed positive coverage from The New York Times and travel guide Lonely Planet recently.
"This is a classic case of old Christchurch versus the new, unknown Christchurch," Gap Filler's Trent Hiles said.
"The old boys' network, the established businesses, want to make money . . . what drives us is community."
Lynch suggested turning the Crowne Plaza land, which the council owns, into a park that would connect Victoria St to Victoria Square while retaining the wooden "arches" that march diagonally across the site.
The arches are formally known as the Arcades.
"The sites needs attention. It's one of the gateways into the central city, " lighting designer Kevin Cawley said.
He attended Lynch's presentation to councillors and told them how lighting could enhance the sculptural presence of the Arcades and the landscaping Lynch desires.
Landscape architect Di Lucas disagreed that the site was messy.
"He wants to move forward with the Arcades and I don't disagree with that, " she said.
Gap Filler removed its Pallet Pavilion from the Crowne Plaza site in autumn and proposed a low amphitheatre to be built this winter.
The quake recovery group also renamed the area The Commons.
Lynch called it a retrospective, backward-looking solution and a return to their past of the messy market style.
Gap Filler was surprised by the "emotive language" of the presentation.
Life in Vacant Spaces - a Gap Filler ally - holds the Crowne Plaza site licence until April 2015.
Lynch gives public relations advice to hospitality and other businesses on Victoria St and said he was certain they supported him but he made the presentation on his behalf.
He also told the council the "wobbly" gravel surface was unsafe and it had a duty of care to pedestrians.
"I don't want to be unkind to Gap Filler but it's time they were given another site in a more appropriate location, " Lynch said.
He suggested space in a "start-up quadrant" he wants established in the southeast corner of the four avenues.
"There's a whole bohemian feel to that area, " he said.
"Sinking ratepayer money into this area at this time is not a top priority, " Cr Jamie Gough said.
"I don't disagree with what's been said but times are tough.
"We have to get best bang for buck."
A Cera map updated last week suggests the Arcades will become part of the Avon River precinct to be completed by the second quarter of 2015.
Gap Filler's use of the site had been successful, council unit manager of urban design and regeneration Carolyn Ingles said.