Mr B Comes To Devonport

Posted by on Feb 27, 2011 | 6 Comments

On a scorching February day, the protesters gathered next to the clock tower opposite the Masonic Tavern to vent their frustration at the latest development in the process to convert the historic tavern into luxury apartments. Michael Boulgaris – luxury property sales specialist – was in town drumming up business for the ten apartments that will eventually be built and sold for around $2.5m each.

The Speculator attended the protest on Sunday afternoon, and while the numbers were small the protesters were vociferous.

Backed by Simon Gundry and Mike Cohen, Heritage advocates Margot McRae, Claudia Page, Sarah Bloomfield, Robyn Langwell and others (including representatives from the Turua St campaign) were present with a plethora of pithy placards,  even including, as one might expect in Devonport,  a statement in Latin – caveat emptor (buyer beware).

A number of passing motorists tooted their approval, and prospective buyers politely took the fliers offered to them by the protesters. Most passers by expressed an interest in the protest apart from two louths, one of whom cryptically grunted “onwards and upwards.”

Even Michael Boulgaris, who had spent the early afternoon upstairs in the Masonic schmoozing a modest smattering of prospective buyers and occasionally glancing out at the placards, came down for a chat.

Resplendent with coiffured hair, perfect teeth and cool blue eyes, Mr B oozed charm as he chatted languidly with Margot McRae about the development plans. He even expressed sympathy for the protesters’ cause, stating he thought it unnecessary to demolish as much of the building as had been planned, and stated he would raise his views in a status meeting to be held tomorrow.

However, Ms McRae, meeting Mr B’s disarming blue-eyed gaze with her own, was up to the challenge and  gave him a friendly roasting while also accepting Boulgaris’ offer of some free drinks for the protesters.

These he delivered himself, perhaps somewhat optimistically to the irascible Simon Gundry who had been heckling him from across the road. A debate ensued, and while views were exchanged, contumelious behaviour was absent.

Gundry suggested Mr B might like to consider selling the Masonic to someone who would be interested in developing it in its current state as a single building and protecting its heritage, rather than breaking it up into multiple apartments. Mr B deftly lifted his bat, allowing that one to sail through to the wicketkeeper, although the general impression was that he had taken “something” away from the protest.

At around 2:30, an hour and a half earlier than planned, Mr B closed up shop, having seen – by The Speculator’s estimates – 10-15 prospective buyers through the site.

The unhappy saga continues.


  1. Ian says:

    Boulgaris vulgaris, a form of weedy growth that appears when land surfaces are disturbed. Requires co-ordinated action to root out.

  2. CJ says:

    Still, nice day for it!

  3. GB says:

    Upon enlargement, end photo on right second row down, it appears a staging of two very safe Female Devonport browneyes on both sides of that sign laden tank!..was this staged ed/Goina?? 🙂

    What an extraordinary coincidence. I put this down to The Speculator’s extraordinary photographic flair. – Ed

  4. GB says:

    Good on the protesters today,
    wish I could have made it today! sure we can stop this smooth talking real estate guy, my father taught me,
    never trust a smooth looking snake, never! ..he stands to make millions out of this, as the commission would be very high per apartment sold…Err ed, who were the prospective buyers??..hope nobody local, they will get heckled to death over this..

  5. Duncan McLean says:

    I would have more sympathy for the protesters if they hadn’t cheapened their protest by using an entirely inappropriate slogan “Chch had no choice, we do”.

    I actually saw this, this morning as I was passing the protest, and felt thoroughly embarrassed and, in fact, more than a little sickened that they consider development work on the Masonic to be worthy of comparison to the tragedy currently taking place in Christchurch.

    Perhaps you could put this to one of the Heritage Advocates for comment.

    Duncan McLean

  6. Gladys says:

    I love that word contumelius! Good effort from the heritage campaigners.

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