Christchurch man back to business in CBD, not waiting for council

ABOVE: Damage to Mr Kepes' Lichfield Street building was restricted to a collapsed parapet (top left of top photo). The adjoining carpark wasn't so lucky.

While authorities were earnestly telling people to stay out of the Christchurch CBD Saturday, entrepreneur Ben Kepes was charging in to check on the building he part-owns, and his three businesses within it.

Mr Kepes headed straight to the roof of his company’s building at 165 Lichfield where a parapet had been damaged (the structure is just outside the newly narrowed cordon).

While not 110% within official safety guidelines, the entrepreneur’s weekend jaunt proved serendipitous.

“We’ve previously done some earthquake strengthening. We'd completed the ground floor of our four-storey building,” Mr Kepes told NBR early Monday morning.

“The engineer who specc’d that work was in the city looking at how ‘his’ buildings had fared and we just happened to bump into him here.”

“The council is not that organised yet – despite being CBD our building seems to have had no visit by the council engineers (at least we haven't been assigned a green, amber or red card yet) - so we've had to sort things for ourselves.”

Mr Kepes was motivated to get a move on.

The Christchurch business man is a part-owner of the holding company that in turn owns the building, and three of its eight tenants (Cactus Climbing, the tech consultancy Diversity - familiar to readers of NBR’s Technology section - and beans and barista gear supplier C4 Coffee). Cactus Climbing maintains a small shop (and sells online) but its main operation is wholesaling to outdoor equipment retailers nationwide, and outdoor clothing and backpacks are made onsite.

“The engineer wrote a letter saying that he was happy for us to remove the remaining parts of parapet so, that's what we're focused on today,” Mr Kepes said.

“There’s lots of cleaning up to do inside. A bunch of new cracks have shown up on the facade but the engineer seems to think they're all okay.”

On Poplar Street, EpiCentre's building was declared safe by the council on Sunday night (click for larger image).

Another NBR Online reader, Layton Duncan, also headed for his CBD office over the weekend.

Mr Duncan runs EpiCentre, a “co-work” space at 10 Poplar Street that rents desks to start-ups and freelancers by the month, and also houses his own company - iPhone and iPad developer Polar Bear Farm.

Returning again this morning, he found it had been already certified safe by the council on Sunday night (see photo above; click for larger image).

There was a lot of mess but no structural damage to the building, which had previously been earthquake strengthened.

ABOVE: The quake also hit the Duncan family's printing business, PrintMonday (pictured Saturday) in Jipcho Road, Sockburn, near Wigram Aerodrome. 

Allowed inside the cordon
Mr Duncan’s office is inside the cordon, but he was allowed to pass.

“Police are letting people in with a reason, Mr Duncan told NBR today. “ But not general pedestrians though.”

Nevertheless, Mr Duncan plans to stay away today.

"Internet and power are up but it's still inside the cordon and I don't like the look of the big brick building on the corner," he told NBR.

BELOW: Let's hope commercial ink is cheaper than inkjet refills.