The "unjust" rejection of a new Mt Eden commercial building has resulted in the investor painting how he felt about the project and naming his exhibition Not in My Backyard Mt Eden!
Marco Creemers is one of Auckland's most influential in real estate development and investment because he is the projects director for the wealthy Friedlander family's Newmarket-headquartered Samson Corporation, with an estimated $1.85 billion of property assets.
Creemers worked for years on the Mt Eden Rd/Ngauruhoe St corner scheme behind cafe Circus Circus but he said that project did not win approval.
So in an unusual move, he has invited submitters to the art exhibition at Grey Lynn's Browne School of Art gallery, saying actions at the resource consent hearing heavily influenced his works.
"I found this hearing of a level I've not experienced before and feel really, very, very, sad that this project won't get off the ground. This project represented more than three years of work for me and my team and I still think the outcome is unjust and thus needed to be recorded in a different way," Creemers said.
The paintings were based on the resource consent hearings this year and are for sale from $650 each. All are acrylic on Fabriano Artistico cold press paper.
Titles include Vote Catcher, Dunce Prize, Hiding behind a Franchise and No Balls Blockers.
Creemers called his art "a body of abstract work that emotionally transcends my involvement with a resource consent hearing to replace a building in the Mt Eden village. I continue to use the essence of the urban environment in shapes, planes and colours in a simple and painterly form, but this time with emotional representations of the tumultuous feelings I had through this project."
The paintings express his feelings about the many Mt Eden locals who fought the plans.
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"The paintings depict the hypocritical nature of submissions and submitters in a visual abstract form, trying to repress, and prevent quality architecture forming, under the guise of heritage and deluded selfishness. Nimbyism."
The Herald reported in June how Auckland Council got 78 submissions on Samson Corporation's notified proposal for a large new Mt Eden office/retail/medical building: three in support and 75 against.
Some in the community criticised the plans for 443 and 445 Mt Eden Rd as looking like a science fiction bunker.
The Mt Eden Maungawhau Village Centre Society "strongly opposes" plans, saying five breaches of the Unitary Plan were proposed and demolishing one building on Mt Eden Rd would have a very significant impact on the recognised streetscape character.
"The proposed building dominates - in a manner reminiscent of a science fiction bunker - the surrounding gracious elderly buildings. There is no consideration given to creating a profile or surface that is in keeping with the neighbouring buildings," the society's opposing submission said.
Creemers said the cost to earthquake-strengthen a Mt Eden Rd retail building did not make economic sense. The site behind it was under-utilised, so it made more sense to replace both buildings, he said.
"The new building meets all the requirements of the Unitary Plan but the roof breaches the height-sensitive area, yet passes the criteria of that breach - that is, that the breach has the same effect as compliant height building," Creemers said in June.
Samson had hired the best team to give the best outcome for the village, he said.
"We have a substantial investment in the village and wouldn't want to jeopardise that. These buildings have to go and that's sad but the new building will be better."
Mt Eden retailers who opposed Samson's scheme did not mind being called Nimbys and were relaxed about the exhibition.
Steve Roper, Mt Eden Village Business Community chairman, said he was part of a group which made an opposing submission and Creemers was "welcome to his opinion the same as everyone else. I might go along and see it. I don't know what a Nimby looks like."
The project was rejected mainly due to Unitary Plan breaches, said Roper.
"As a retailer, I'd love more retailers in the village because the more people, the better. It's been sad to see the premises empty," Roper said.
Frances Loo of the association and Chapter Book and Tea Shop said she received an invitation to the exhibition, was considering whether to go and did not know Creemers painted.
About being called a Nimby, Loo said she had submitted against the height and aesthetic on the project. The area and its maunga were iconic "and if you lose something you can never get it back."
• Marco Creemers' paintings, December 10, 5-7pm and Saturday December 14, 10am-5pm, Browne School of Art, Grey Lynn