There are lot of people that have suffered through this quake. There are only a few that have come out better off from it. One of whom is Bob Parker. But what really frightens me about this event is that it may provide a lifeline for failed property developer / bail out target Dave Henderson. Here is a quote from him from an article in the Herald:

“It was mainly older brick buildings that failed and they have only indemnity insurance, not replacement.”

Mr Pavletich predicted the structures would be deemed unworthy of repair and demolished.

But developer Dave Henderson forecast a massive financial boost.

“Anyone in the brick- or block-laying business, all their problems are over, along with anyone in construction or civil services.”

All their problems are over. All his problems are over? Dave Henderson has been a controversial figure in Christchurch of late, for a number of reasons that I can’t really be bothered going into at this point. Long and short of it is that he has done more than most to change the landscape of inner city Christchurch in the last few years than anyone else but the council – and most of it not good. The “jewel in the crown” was the SOL Square development, which is a collection of buildings just off Lichfield St that was set up with the goal of being an area for business, residential and hospitality, but has fast turned into a collection of financially underperforming booze barns. The Living Space residential development has not gone well, and I think that all of the retail stores in the area have all left. While the bars are still there, they have merely succeeded in relocating the worse types of drunks from the bars on Oxford Terrace to their bars – hardly an achievement to be proud of.

Not far from SOL Square – but a mile away ideologically – is the Poplar Lane development. This hasn’t all been rosy, but it felt like – at least before the earthquake – it was an area that was coming into it’s own. It is the home of the Twisted Hop, a very successful brewpub and restaurant, along with the Vespa Room, which caters for a slightly older crowd, and Goodbye Blue Monday which has become a mainstay of the local indie music scene within a year of opening. There are some shops down Poplar Lane – retail – that have turned over a bit, but at least they are still turning over. And the Mitchelli’s cafe, run by the Mitchell family, is always busy and brings people through during the day and on Saturdays. The difference between the two – Poplar and SOL – is striking. One has taken a while to develop, has gone through a number of shops, but has come out stronger. The other was basically imposed from the top from one man with a vision, and after initial enthusiasm waned, that man found himself with businesses that didn’t make business sense. That man was Dave Henderson.

SOL Square was just one of Dave’s plans. Dave bought a lot of property around town, some of which the council now owns, some of which the receivers now own, and some of which one of his many companies that hasn’t yet been wound down probably owns. I worry that this earthquake will have done some damage to a building that Henderson still owns, and that will allow for him to get paid out some money from the EQC. Even a little bit of money could keep Hendo solvent for a few more months.

When he was at the “top of his game”, Henderson bought, and then knocked down, the Tivoli theatre in the north west corner of Cathedral Square. Then things started going wrong for Dave, and nothing happened to the site. A couple of weeks ago, it become the newest Wilsons’ carpark. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe the guy does have a vision, maybe he’s just misunderstood. But from where I stand, he doesn’t have a good track record, and he is not the sort of person that we should be entrusting the rebuilding of Christchurch to.