Inner City Urban Development

Published: Tue 5 Feb 2002 10:50 AM
Inner City Urban Development
An urban park should be part of any plans for a parcel of land in central Wellington accumulated by the WCC. The Architectural Centre sees an opportunity for a partnership between private development and public authority.
Although the Wellington City Council has accumulated the properties over many years and may now be selling the lot, two of the buildings have protected facades; the Malthouse building, with its fine wrought iron balcony, and the Caledonia Chambers behind it on Victoria St. The building containing Victoria Arcade was built in 1950’s and features a 50’s style curved entrance canopy. The Architectural Centre understands two of the buildings require significant structural upgrading, and believes this may have prompted the Council to reconsider its ownership.
The council has a number of options if it chooses to sell the properties:
1) Sell the entire collection of properties as one package, which opens up the possibility of a large scale redevelopment.
2) Sell each of the properties separately to different purchasers.
3) Sell some of the properties, keeping others to use for community use.
4) Retain all the properties, and carry out maintenance to insure the buildings can remain open.
From an urban design point of view, the area includes two much used pedestrian connections between two of Wellington’s most important streets. Chews Lane has the potential to be upgraded from a slightly unsavoury service alley to take on something of the character of Vulcan Lane in Auckland. The buildings on the opposite side from the Malthouse could be opened up more with shop fronts and windows. The rusting Zeal building could be demolished and replaced a taller building with a smaller footprint, widening the end Chews Lane to advantage.
Victoria Arcade is almost an early attempt at a shopping mall, and functions as a kind of internal street, with shops along one side. Improvements in lighting and finishes could work wonders here.
There is and urgent need for a small urban park, somewhere to relax at lunchtime with grass and seating. Wellington needs more of these kinds of spaces. Witness how popular Midland Park is at 12:30 on a weekday!
The Architectural Centre sees an opportunity for a partnership between private development and public amenity. Benefits could accrue to both sides, with the Council curbing public spending but retaining strong design direction for the area. Developers would benefit by having high quality and well integrated public spaces around their buildings to help funnel in the punters. Finally, the public could win, by enjoying that most allusive goal of urban design, a seamless and complementary integration of the public and private domains.
Andrew Donaldson
Architectural Centre
Ph: 916 2207 (wk)

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