22 Dec 2016

Compensation sought over Auckland's City Rail Link

From Checkpoint, 5:19 pm on 22 December 2016

An Auckland cafe is asking Auckland Transport for compensation, saying construction of the City Rail Link (CRL) has killed its business.

The owners of Kaffeine on Albert St, Gabor Florovits and Kyra Cheng, said they were making about half the amount of coffee they did this time last year. Construction on the twin 3.4km long tunnels is under way right outside.

Mr Florovits said he was told his application for compensation would take 20 working days to process. That was three months ago, and he was still yet to hear back.

"Everyone is struggling here in the area. Auckland Transport and the [Auckland] Council should have been proactive from day one. They should have implemented a rent supplement or a plan, and small businesses like us could have survived," Mr Florovits said.

City Rail Link spokeswoman Carol Greensmith said she doubted the project was solely at fault for Kaffeine's slowdown.

She pointed towards NZME, which until recently was a two minute walk from Kaffeine, moving offices as one reason for a reduction in sales.

"I imagine there were a large number of coffee-drinking journalists who helped keep that business afloat," Ms Greensmith said.

She said they had done many things to try and minimise the impact on local businesses.

"We have put in a lot of signage about businesses being open as usual, we've publicised them, we've put their logos on our hoardings, we feature them in our newsletter."

But Jon Lowther - a nearby business owner on Albert St, and a Kaffeine regular - said businesses have not been helped enough.

"It's probably easier to get around Syria," Mr Lowther said.

"What's happened here in Auckland is reprehensible from the point of view that local operators don't seem to have been consulted ... It just seems entirely unfair."

Construction on the Albert St section of the CRL is expected to be completed by 2019, with the entire $3.4 billion project finished by 2021/21.