It's not that I don't care about High Street...
Last week's column on the difference between High and Victoria streets certainly caused some debate. My phone's been running hot with both supporters and detractors of my position. And it's not just my old mates like John Patterson who emailed to tell me Christchurch is suffering from experts. No, all sorts of strangers got in touch to tell me how right/wrong I was.
I even got a letter to the editor that didn't mention what an eyesore Smash Palace is. This is exciting for an aspiring hack like me. In the letter, the staff at Priority Communications pointed out that lots is happening in High St and suggested my perception of the neighbourhood was wrong.
Having people give a toss about anything you've written is all you can hope for as someone who pens a column each week. Negative feedback is better than no feedback at all. I just hope it wasn't my previous comment about Christchurch needing fewer PR consultants that got their hackles up.
In the letter some valid points were raised that married up with the theme of most negative responses I received. The key beef was: "What about the Strange's Building? Are you blind?" I would like to clarify that I didn't intend to say nothing was happening in High St, just that it is much less than is happening in Victoria St.
Personally I think Strange's on the corner of High and Lichfield streets is the prettiest building that has gone up since the earthquakes. The weird-shaped corner site ensured the building would be something different from some of the soulless boxes that have popped up in other parts of the city and credit should be given to the developers for building something special.
The architect and developer have created something that is beautiful, functional, clearly tenantable, creative and forward thinking while tipping its hat to the site's past. I just love it.
But what I was saying was that the innovation precinct and south frame designation have hung over the neighbourhood making development unappealing. If you look at the plans for these crappy precincts, you will note that the top end of High St falls outside the nasty blue shadow drawn over innovative sites where the planners feel lumping rules on development is a good idea. It also falls outside the scam that is the south frame.
Maybe I should have divided the street into upper and lower High St for my discussion. If you look at the area of the street outside the designation, development is happening. Sure it's happening slowly, but it's still happening. This is where the Strange's Building is. Within the designated zones . . . not a lot. And compared to Victoria St, much less.
I hope that has cleared up any misunderstandings on how well High St has grown. I stand by my position that it has emerged more slowly than Victoria St for all sorts of reasons. I should acknowledge the KPI Rothschild guys because they have, and will continue to be, important in shaping the neighbourhood.
I've got faith in High St. I'm backing it. It's my neighbourhood. I just say that it makes for an interesting comparison with Victoria St when we are looking at what's worked and what hasn't.