Archives for posts with tag: Warwick Isaacs

Last week, Warwick Isaacs claimed that it would cost $18 million to fix the Majestic. He didn’t provide any breakdown of his estimates, and still won’t provide the engineering reports, but I guess he thinks we should just believe him. $18 million is a lot of money. It is an inflated figure, designed to silence the heritage campaigners trying to have the Majestic saved. We have no way of knowing how realistic a figure it is – but I thought a comparison to another heritage theatre restoration might give some context.

Theatre Royal restoration

This is the Theatre Royal on Gloucester St. A lovely building which will be an asset to the city when it is reopened later this year. The total cost of this restoration project is around $30 million. Warwick Isaacs wants us to believe that restoring the Majestic will cost almost 2/3rds of what the restoration of the Theatre Royal will cost. Look, I’m no structural engineer, but I find it hard to believe that it the two could even be in the same ball park. The Theatre Royal project is almost a complete rebuild, based around the original facade, with much of the detail salvaged to be added back later. The Majestic may be badly damaged (Isaacs still won’t release the engineers reports, so we can’t asses that ourselves) but it has a steel frame. And unlike the Theatre Royal when that project started, it still has four walls and a roof.

Theatre Royal facade

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Warwick Isaacs has finally responded to the council’s questions about the Majestic, but I can’t help but feel he is being less than truthful:

In a letter to the city council, Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) director Warwick Isaacs said he had not made the decision to demolish the theatre lightly or in haste. He went onto strongly reject the council’s assertion the planned widening of Manchester St was the main driver for his decision.

This final sentence seems to contradict the letter (Majestic CERA Section 38 full demolition) he wrote to Jane Parfitt, the CEO of the CCC just a month ago. I’ve attached the full letter, but here is the relevant part:

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 8.51.34 AM“Accessible City” is the CERA jargon for “transport plan”. So in this letter, from less than a month ago, he sited the transport plan as the first reason for knocking down the Majestic. The council then tried to respond to this, by ameliorating his concerns about transport. Isaacs then responded by claiming it wasn’t anything to do with transport. Unfortunately for him, the paper trail proves otherwise.

Given his predilection for massaging the truth, I think there is little reason to trust his claim that it would cost $18 million to restore. He provides no evidence for this, and will not release the engineering report which would allow for independent verification of the damage to the building. He also says:

“I am unable to halt the demolition as you have requested”

Unable? I find it hard to believe that someone with almost unlimited powers to destroy, acquire and re-zone can’t pick up the phone and tell someone that he has contracted to stop. No, I think he is completely able to stop the demolition, but totally unwilling.