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Economy leaves vacant lot’s future unsure

Oct 11th, 2012 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, News, Top Picture

MUSICAL LOTTERY: Taranaki Street lot still empty, despite offer.

A VACANT lot in Wellington could have a musical makeover if New Zealand Symphony Orchestra can take up an offer by a city construction company.

The site on Taranaki Street, where Murdoch’s Factory once stood, could become a recording studio for the NZSO says site owner Maurice Clark, who proposed the idea.

“We wanted to make a philanthropic contribution and build a new home for the NZSO to record music for Peter Jackson’s films,” says Mr Clark, owner and operator of McKee-Fehl Constructors Limited.

However, because of the recession and with New Zealand’s orchestras currently under review, he is unsure when construction will begin.

“We’ve been in discussions, but there’s no money for the NZSO to do anything,” he says.

“No decisions have been made. Until then, the site stands empty.”

NZSO STYMIED: “No money for the NZSO to do anything.”

A spokesperson for the NZSO (pictured left) says the while it is aware the site is being considered for commercial development, the orchestra has no current plans to relocate its operations.

The lot has remained empty since early 2011, when Murdoch’s Icing Sugar, Spice and Pickle Factory was demolished, after Wellington City Council declared it an earthquake hazard.

Since then, the lot has been a target for litter dumping, with beer bottles, drink cans and coffee cups thrown over the fence and large patches of weeds and gorse have grown.

STICKER WISHES: ‘I Wish This Was’ stickers on lot fence


Recently, an unknown group of people attached ‘I Wish This Was’ stickers to the fence in front of the lot (below).

The stickers, inspired by US artist Candy Chang, stated what they wanted the site to be.

On the wish list was: “a park with ice cream and coffee”, “a jewellery and clothing market”, “a homeless shelter”, “an adventure playground” and “an outdoor performance centre”.

NewsWire asked Taranaki Street residents and businesses how they would like to fill the empty space.

KiwiMart owner and manager Minesh Kinsara suggested it could house student accommodation.

“There are a lot of students in this area. It would bring in good revenue,” he said.

“At the moment, it’s a waste of the land.”

Karen Yuill, a shop assistant at the Salvation Army Family Store, said she would like to see the site become a green area with trees, flowers, swings and slides, for adults.

STICKER IDEAS: Public express Candy Change-style wishes

“I’m sick of parks with swings just for kids. I’d love to go and have a swing in my lunch break,” she said.

Dennis Duerr, who often visits friends in Taranaki Street, said he would like to see it become an outdoor BBQ area.

“It would be nice to have a park in the middle of town,” he said.

When asked about the suggestions, Mr Clark replied, “If the economic climate were different, it could be all those things.”

Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean says the council is aware of the recession’s effect on construction in Wellington.

“We work with developers to try to avoid the creation of long-term vacant sites,” he says.

LITTER PROBLEM: Bottles have been thrown over the fence

“We prefer that, when a building is demolished, construction on a replacement building will start quickly afterward.

“However, we do recognise that the current tough economic times are having a chilling effect on some developments.”

Mr MacLean says the council has not received any complaints about littering in the site, or its unsightly appearance.

“There is a limit to what we can do, except we can ensure the sites do not accumulate rubbish, become dangerous or generate dust.”

Mr Clark thanked NewsWire for bringing the littering to his attention and the rubbish has since been cleared.

The Council granted Mr Clark resource consent to erect a temporary car parking building on the site, but he decided a temporary structure was not worth the capital expense.

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is a Whitireia journalism student, most passionate about the arts and social justice issues. Sometimes, she even combines the two.
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