INDEPENDENT NEWS

‘Next Piece Of The Puzzle’ – Completion Of Downtown Auckland’s Transformation In Sight With New Mixed-use Precinct

Published: Fri 24 Nov 2023 10:21 AM
A bold, world-class mixed-use precinct in the city centre is set to complete the revitalisation of downtown Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland. Eke Panuku Development Auckland and Precinct Properties have signed a development agreement for the redevelopment of the Downtown Car Park site, the last remaining under-used and strategically significant site in the area.
The precinct will include premium commercial, retail and hospitality offerings, drawing thousands of workers and visitors to the area every day. It will also include hundreds of new homes, growing the city centre’s stature as an urban neighbourhood that tens of thousands of Aucklanders already call home.
At ground level, the precinct will feature expansive public laneways and spacious internal courtyards, seamlessly connecting to Britomart (through Commercial Bay) and the Viaduct. This will complete the downtown laneway network as envisioned in the City Centre Masterplan, with more opportunities to connect with midtown in the future.
The redevelopment of the site will deliver on a number of key outcomes identified in the City Centre Masterplan by Auckland Council. These include more transit-oriented development and greater unity between the city centre and waterfront (called the “harbour edge stitch”), public realm improvements and the development of new mixed-use destinations.
Classified as earthquake-prone, the existing car park will require between $20m-$30m to remediate in the coming years, on a structure that is now for the most part 55 years old. The car park is also under-utilised.
By leveraging the already significant investment in the city centre through the Auckland Council group, central government and private sector, the redevelopment of the site will contribute significantly to the creation of a vibrant, exciting, and environmentally sustainable waterfront that is a thriving residential and employment centre and a world-class place to live, work, visit and do business.
With growing demand for high quality office space in Auckland’s city centre, more commercial floorspace will be a welcome addition to New Zealand’s most important economic hub. It will allow enterprising businesses to locate themselves in close proximity to the best talent and best complementary businesses in the country.
Construction is not expected to start until 2026 at the earliest, with the car park operating as normal until then.
Eke Panuku Chair Paul Majurey is excited by the contribution developments like this will make to the city: “This agreement represents significant value for Auckland Council and Aucklanders. Eke Panuku applauds the vision of Precinct and its partner Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei for this site. The commitment to the shared vision of a prosperous, sustainable city centre is evident in the design and echoes what Precinct have already delivered at Commercial Bay.
“Eke Panuku has been leading the way in delivering a rejuvenated waterfront in Wynyard Quarter, driven by the recognition and acknowledgement of the waterfront and Waitematā Harbour as ancestral taonga and significant cultural landscapes for mana whenua.
“Now we can put the next piece of the puzzle in place, as we reconnect the city centre to our waterfront in downtown Tāmaki Makaurau. Along with other ambitious city-shaping projects like Te Ara Tukutuku, and reconnecting the public to the port land, our city has an exciting future.”Partnership
Precinct says it’s proud of delivering world-class, transformational outcomes, in line with the masterplan for the city centre, and in partnership with the city, as seen with Commercial Bay and Wynyard Quarter.
“This is an incredible, once in a generation opportunity to enhance the vibrancy of Auckland’s city centre, and to create a seamless connection along the waterfront.” Scott Pritchard, chief executive officer of Precinct Properties said. “Our ambition is to deliver a true mixed-use precinct encompassing office, residential, and hospitality as well as new urban spaces for residents and the public.”
Precinct is partnering with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei on the project, ensuring it will be uniquely Tāmaki Makaurau and uniquely inspired by te ao Māori.
Ngarimu Blair, deputy chair of the Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust said: “Ngāti Whātua are excited about the opportunity to work alongside Precinct on a development of this size, scale and significance. Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, as tangata whenua of the site, has worked with Precinct to create a partnership covering commercial, design and social elements of the development, with a view to achieving real outcomes for Māori.”Transport
The precinct will be one of the best-connected locations in Auckland, with Waitematā Station (Britomart) and the recently upgraded Downtown Ferry Terminal only a 5-minute walk away, and Te Waihorotiu Station (soon to be the country’s busiest train station) only a 10-minute walk up Albert Street. The Lower Albert Street bus interchange is just around the corner, only a 2-minute walk along Customs Street West or Quay Street. Cycleways along Customs Street West and Quay Street also provide excellent connectivity for those on two wheels.
The City Rail Link (CRL) will double the city’s rail network capacity, carrying 54,000 passengers per hour. Planned improvements for the bus network, set to align with the opening of CRL, will see transport options continue to improve in the coming years. Buses already form the backbone of the public transport network in the city centre, with only 450 buses bringing the same number of people into the city every morning as 30,000 cars.
There are also approximately 4,400 public car parks within a 5-minute (500m) walk of the site, and approximately 12,300 car parks within a 7-10 minute (750m) walk. These will continue to provide access to the wider downtown area for those who have to, or choose to drive. These include a mix of short stay, long stay and leased, allowing for a range of different uses.
The redevelopment of the site also envisages a number of wider transport outcomes as requested by Auckland Council when it approved the sale. These include new on-street bus and public space improvements, made possible through the possible removal of the Lower Hobson Street flyover. Auckland Council will decide through its long-term plan process whether to incorporate and fund these outcomes as part of the redevelopment of the area as a whole.
Auckland Council’s Governing Body has decided to remove a proposed public micro-mobility hub as a required outcome. Analysis has shown that more cost-effective alternative future options are available and most of the demand for such a facility will be provided for in the new precinct itself, along with new developments and retrofitted buildings nearby making provision for similar facilities.Key features
The initial design for the precinct consists of a central podium with two towers above, subject to further refinement and consenting processes.The design will enable direct, convenient, and publicly accessible connections through to Britomart and the ViaductSector-leading integrated sustainability with a ‘whole-of-life’ approach, from construction through to operation, including benchmark Home- and Green Star ratingsSocial procurement commitments, which aim to provide quality employment opportunities to the under-employed, with a key focus on increasing access for Māori and Pasifika-owned businessesThe developer has committed to provide 200 additional short-stay public car parks in the Commercial Bay precinct

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