Archive | CBD core

24/7 bus lanes the start of downtown rail link impacts

Auckland Transport starts work this week to add more than 1.2km of new 24/7 bus lanes to the city centre to minimise effects on bus timetables when construction starts on the city rail link this year.

That’s the first of a number of downtown changes forced by the rail link construction programme. Auckland Transport also wants commuters into the city by car to think of alternatives for next year, as construction increases congestion.

In November, a new stormwater main being tunnelled under the eastern side of Albert St between Swanson & Wellesley Sts for the rail link will affect traffic lanes at these and the Victoria St intersections.

Some bus routes & stops are being moved to new locations away from these construction works.

The new bus lanes will be on:

  • Fanshawe St between Daldy & Halsey Sts
  • Halsey St between Fanshawe & Victoria St West
  • Victoria St West between Graham & Queen Sts
  • Wellesley St West between Sale & Queen Sts
  • Mayoral Drive between Cook & Wellesley Sts
  • Hobson St between Wellesley & Victoria Sts

City rail link construction manager Chris Bird said yesterday the new bus lanes would be marked using a system called EverGreen which has been developed to align with zero waste policies. It’s made in New Zealand of 90% renewable resources.

“The main construction work involves trenching along Albert St and will start next year. The work is expected to take about 3½ years. Bus changes will be staged around construction during this time. We’d like Aucklanders who usually access the city centre by car to consider alternatives next year to minimise effects on city congestion.”

Auckland Transport will run a campaign early next year, closer to the main construction work, advising commuters to reduce their car trips into the city and will also hold information sessions on travel choices such as public transport, walking, cycling, carpooling & flexible working hours.

Link: City centre transport changes

Attribution: Auckland Transport release.

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Criticisms, suggestions accompany city centre retail plan

Published 12 October 2012

When councillors run down their city centre with ease, you know a lot of change will be required before it becomes widely accepted as a quality environment.

But among the many criticisms at the council’s economic forum on Tuesday came suggestions for improvement: Quality might come.

The forum endorsed the approach being taken in a city centre retail action plan, which included making it “the premier shopping destination in New Zealand”. Which is what it used to be before suburban malls were invented.

Now, in the school holidays, it’s a quaint place for parents to bring their children, it’s a place for office workers – still by far the biggest, but nowadays only one of many – and it has some shopping. It still has the most expensive retail rents, but Newmarket closed the gap long ago with creation of a far more vibrant retail strip.

The retail action plan devised by the council in collaboration with Heart of the City aims at enhancing the distinct offerings in 8 precincts – Waterfront, Britomart, Queen St, High St, City west, Arts, K Rd & Victoria.

Council regional economic policy principal advisor David Taylor-Valiant told the forum the objectives included consolidating the retail core, getting more visitors into Queen St and more spending at the weekends, making shopping “one of the main reasons why people visit the city centre”, developing guidelines for the precincts’ development & investment, developing resources to sell the city centre to potential investors, investigating ways to attract new businesses and “achieve the desired retail mix” and sponsoring events that support key retail sectors.

For the council, task will include promoting high quality design and enforcing bylaws to improve “look & feel” perceptions. The plan would make access a priority, improving public transport services and implementing parking management changes. Tania Loveridge, of Heart of the City, said those changes would make the decision to come into the city centre more attractive, not prohibitive.

But first, the councillor reaction. Cllr Sandra Coney told the forum: “I was in Wellington last week, walked around the city centre in the evening and was struck by how many people were out & about. One of the things that struck me as to why Wellington seems to work and Auckland doesn’t is the greater mix of retail – a second-hand bookshop, galleries, Aotea Centre (in Auckland) closed away, places to eat, there are no big banks in the active part of the cbd.

“There were heaps of young people out in the street, completely different from Queen St, where they drink to get blotto, throw up and start biffing people. In Wellington, they were out to have a good time, it had a much more community feel. In Auckland I don’t get that sense of community at all, it feels like a place where people come to misbehave.

“The question would be, how do you learn from other places that have made their cbds successful, because this plan all seems a little bit theoretical to me. My message is, I don’t particularly want the big international retailers, it’s the interesting little shops in Wellington that I thought made it attractive.”

Mr Taylor-Valiant said Auckland had taken a lot from Melbourne over the past 5 years. Within the cbd, he said some of the quirky shops had moved from High & O’Connell Sts down to Britomart, “but that gives opportunities to nurture other shops”.

While Cllr Coney thought big malls, such as those at St Lukes & Newmarket, were “sucking the life out of” the Auckland cbd, Wellington didn’t have the same kind of retail competition, so Wellingtonians still went to the cbd to shop.

Mrs Loveridge said development of Britomart and changes in High St had brought an upsurge in shopper interest.

Cllr Cathy Casey, an opponent of the plan change enabling the St Lukes mall to double in size, said what was missing from the plan was more important than what was in it: “We don’t have a retail strategy yet, so how do we cope with the doubling of St Lukes mall and influx of retailers that are going to suck the city centre dry?”

Mr Taylor-Valiant: “We don’t have a regional strategy but we do have the Auckland Plan. The idea we’re following is consolidation. If we can make a point of difference we can then stand on our own feet.”

Cllr Casey: I’m not convinced of the ability to market the city centre as a destiny for domestic visitors.”

Mrs Loveridge: “The current destination marketing campaign is within Heart of the City. We’ve done that for the last 4 years with pretty good results so far. We also continue to have discussions with Ateed (council company Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development Ltd) on their marketing campaign for the region, No passport required. So we’re not looking to create a new campaign as a result of this, it’s really a continuation of what we’ve created so far.”

Cllr Casey saw another deficiency in the plan: “Nowhere in here does it talk about NZ-made, NZ-created, NZ-manufactured, New Zealand artists, Auckland produce. You don’t actually say buy New Zealand, buy local.”

Council economic development manager Harvey Brookes agreed that was important, but added: “Retail is an open free market. There is a point at which we can’t over-direct what goes into the city centre. We have to define what you’re saying without telling certain retailers they’re welcome or not welcome.”

On Cllr Casey’s point that the plan was about marking the city centre “as different from the rest of Auckland, as being in competition with the rest of Auckland”, Mr Taylor-Valiant said the council’s idea was to connect the region’s centres better into a hub & spoke model.

Even that ran into trouble, though, as Mr Brookes explained: “Heart of the City’s a bid (business improvement district). We’ve got 45 others and we’re working with them on how the retail offer can be improved.”

Orakei Local Board deputy chairman Mark Thomas said the draft plan “doesn’t give me a sense of how we think we are, which makes it more difficult to see how we think we’re going to get to”.

Around that point, he discovered the forum was being asked to endorse the plan without having the full document. Mr Brookes said that would be made available when the plan went to the next step, the Auckland Plan committee.

Cllr Wayne Walker commented: “One thing that doesn’t get picked up that I’ve observed in other cities is that people congregate in their city centres, they want to be seen there. We don’t do it. I think one of the critical things about that is going to be more pedestrianisation. The other thing I observed is a lot of stuff we could & should be doing and doesn’t cost a lot of money. When it’s raining, look at all the spots (along the cbd streets) where you get hit by water.

“You’ll see markets in Rio, Melbourne. We need that, need to be cultivating that and unconventional retail, and existing retailers might see it as a threat. When you go to the theatre (in other cities), there’s a multitude of things that tie in with each other. There’s a lot of basic stuff that doesn’t cost a lot of money that we could be doing right now.”

Cllr Dick Quax took a harder look at the plan: “You talk about ‘intrigue & entice’, but what is going to happen to make me shop in the Auckland cbd? Apart from buying coffees, I don’t shop in the cbd.”

The helpful forum chairman, Cllr Cameron Brewer: “You’re more Newmarket, aren’t you? How do we seduce Cllr Quax? A cbd running track, perhaps.”

Mr Brookes said a great retail offer has to be part of the city centre masterplan, but there were also many other things around the city that you wouldn’t get anywhere else: “If Aucklanders are given an excellent choice they will take to that. When you go to Wellington you don’t go to the Hutt, if in Australia you go to the big city. Unfortunately in New Zealand we’ve got it the other way round, we market Milford Sound.”

Cllr Quax: “What actions are being contemplated in the unitary plan to intrigue & entice people into the city centre?”

Mr Taylor-Valiant said it was more than the unitary plan: “It is things to attract, to continue to improve the public realm, to allow businesses to set up in the city without red tape.”

Cllr Christine Fletcher, who was an MP from 1990-99, said she walked the Wellington waterfront every morning and felt jealous: “Beauty had to be a factor into that mix. If you want to understand the migration of commerce down to Britomart, it isn’t because it has a station down there, it is a beautiful place, a place people want to be. If we design crappy public spaces around retail, people won’t go there. Very often it doesn’t cost any more to build something that’s aesthetically pleasing.”

Cllr Brewer said the cbd’s future was assured because of population projections, more inner-city residents, more people working there and more visitors. However, Mr Brookes cautioned: “It highlights why we have to get this right. If we don’t, we will end up losing our city centre to the region.”

Want to comment? Go to the forum.


Attribution: Forum meeting, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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AMP proposes lively lane back of Quay St

Published 4 November 2011, image added 9 November 2011

Major downtown office-block owner AMP NZ Office Ltd has presented the Auckland Council with an idea to extend the Takutai Square link along between Quay & Customs St west to the Viaduct Basin.

The company put its proposal in a submission on the council’s city centre masterplan.

It’s partly a matter of self-preservation – the notion that opening up new intensive development areas around stations on the proposed city rail loop at Wellesley St, Karangahape Rd & Newton Rd, as a way of giving the stations critical mass, might work for those areas away from the core cbd but would inevitably detract from the downtown area as a business focus.

On that score, AMP Office chief executive Scott Pritchard said in the submission: “The engine room has existing capacity – both vacant space & sites – suitable for future development. Even as Auckland gropws, we see the engine room as having good capacity to meet demand for premium office space for 15-20 years in highrise cbd office buildings which have for decades been, and remain, the proven & predominant city centre business mode.

“The benefits of co-location, density & shared amenity are more practically & efficiently delivered through intensive highrise form. By comparison, fringe-city mid- or lowrise developments undermine these fundamental aspects, and therefore detract from the intensity & energy that the engine room concept requires.”

Mr Pritchard said very few of the most recent large projects for top-200 business head offices had taken place in this engine room: “This raises a risk of dispersing the critical mass required to underpin the concept.”

AMP Office has told the council the opportunity exists, through aligned design, to extend the Te Ara Tahuhu axis from Britomart comprehensively through to the west as far as the Viaduct and a future Lower Hobson Plaza.

“This mixed-use pedestrian axis would thread through and fully open up these blocks in support of the north-south stitch and Quay St Boulevard, and would more fully connect the major office, transport & retail amenity in this critical area for transport & economic development.”

The AMP Office submission also proposed extending Federal St down to Quay St “as a pedestrian lane to meet the water”.

Want to comment? Go to the forum.


Attribution: AMP Office submission, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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Council seeks proposals for new cbd “living room” series

Published 22 September 2006

Auckland City Council is seeking proposals from the creative sector for temporary events, installations or interventions in the cbd that will contribute to the 2007 Living Room programme.

The Living Room series was introduced in 2005 to promote the concept of the cbd as the “living room” of the city. Troupes of performers made their way around the downtown area, messages were printed on footpaths, lamps were strung along Vulcan Lane & Durham St East, all aimed at enlivening & animating the cbd’s public spaces.

Council leisure services manager Paul Heron said the council wanted to develop the programme further and invited the creative sector to submit proposals.

The 2007 Living Room programme will occur from mid-March to late May. Proposed temporary events or installations may be in place from 1-8 weeks, depending on the concept.

Proposed events or installations must be located within the cbd, have a focus on Queen St & its main feeder streets, be on outdoor public spaces and be permitted under the central area district plan, or be easily capable of obtaining a resource consent.

A panel of selectors will evaluate the proposals. The panel will include:

a member of the CBD board
a city councillor
3 council staff members, and
a member of the creative sector.

Applications close on Friday 10 November.

Website: Auckland‘s cbd into the future


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Attribution: Council release, story written by Bob Dey for this website.

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Refund for developers installing water tanks proposed

Published 9 May 2006

Residential developers who install rainwater tanks could soon be eligible for a partial refund of their development levies under a proposal which the Auckland City Council’s works & services committee endorsed last week.

The council would refund developers $1000 once an approved rainwater tank was installed for non-potable water supply within a development. Along with savings on water & wastewater charges under current Metrowater policies, this would allow the payback period for the investment in the tank to be reduced to 3-6 years, depending on the type & size of dwelling.

“This programme aims to encourage conservation and re-use of water, which will benefit the environment and reduce costs for residents,” works & services committee chairman Neil Abel said.

The council has produced a manual gving developers information about rainwater tanks, and the standards & specifications required. The manual also contains an application form and information on how to apply for the refund.

The proposal requires approval by the full council through its long-term plan before being launched. The long-term plan is due to be finalised in June, allowing for a start to the tanks programme on 1 July of it’s approved.

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Attribution: Council release, story written by Bob Dey for this website.

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Central area demolition (plan change 8) open to further submissions

Published 12 March 2006

Jurisdiction: Auckland City

Neighbourhood: CBD

Applicant: Auckland City Council

Application detail: Plan change 8, central area plan, to introduce new provisions for demolishing character buildings in the central area

Notification date: 18 December 2005

Further submissions closure date: Friday 7 April

Website: Auckland City Council notices


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Attribution: Council notice, story written by Bob Dey for this website.

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Conrad gets OK for 15-storey V-shaped apartment block under plan change 2 rules

Published 22 December 2005

Jurisdiction: Auckland City

Neighbourhood: CBD

Applicant: Montgomery Developments Ltd (Robert Holden of Conrad Properties Ltd)

Application: 205 Federal St, demolition of 5-storey office building (centre of photo), to be replaced by 15-storey truncated V-shaped apartment building containing 151 units, 2 ground-floor retail tenancies, 27 basement parking spaces, maximum total gross floor area of 12,390m² on 1239m² site

Decision: Non-notified consent granted

Application detail: The building is modelled on Conrad’s Volt on Queen, under construction at the corner of Queen St & Mayoral Drive. All units will have 2 bedrooms, more spacious after most second bathrooms were deleted in the redesign. Apartment sizes will range from 54.7-63m².

Council senior planner Heather McNeal said the project had been assessed by the urban design panel in May, but the council introduced plan change 2 – with new rules for apartments – on 3 June and Montgomery lodged a revised application, meeting most of the plan change requirements, on 13 June.

Ms McNeal said the panel found the revised design represented a good standard of amenity, with better internal development. Council urban design Sue Evans said the areas of non-compliance were to do with some aspects of outlook.

Cllr Graeme Mulholland was concerned that the building’s external walkways “could become dark & canyon-like” if another building went up beside this one.

But urban design consultant Clinton Bird explained: “What this design achieves is, every apartment has a street frontage and it doesn’t matter what happens on adjoining sites.”

Cllr Christine Caughey: “I like the V shape. I know Mayfair (in Parnell, designed as a V) quite well and it works very well.”

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2 Wolfe St retail units sell, no bids on apartment site

Published 11 December 2005

Bayleys Real Estate has sold 38 properties for more than $40 million in a series of Total Property auctions around the country.


CBD, unit A, corner Hobson & Wolfe Sts, 195m² retail unit occupied by the Pickle Bar, sold for $405,000 at 7.9% yield. A new 7-year lease is in place at $32,500/year. (Michael Grainger & Dave Bernard, Bayleys Auckland Central).

CBD, Unit B, corner Hobson & Wolfe Sts, 111m² retail unit occupied by a hair salon, sold for $305,000 at 7.4% yield on a new 3-year lease. (Michael Grainger & Dave Bernard, Bayleys Auckland Central).


CBD, 53 Hobson St, 193m² vacant site with plans for a 14-storey accommodation building, passed in with no bid. (Quinn Ngo & James Chan Bayleys Auckland Central).

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3 floors over Myers Park sell vacant

Published 11 December 2005

Bayleys Real Estate has sold 38 properties for more than $40 million in a series of Total Property auctions around the country.




CBD southern fringe, level 6-8, 10-12 Scotia Place, 3 floors overlooking Myers Park, each 280m², with 14 parking spaces included, sold vacant for $1.21 million. (Jack Downer & Dominic Ong, Bayleys Auckland Central).




CBD southern fringe, unit R5, 490 Queen St, 529m² ground-floor retail unit on City Rd corner, monthly holding rental income of about $15,000/year, passed in with no bid. (Sue de Jong, Harry Kim & Quinn Ngo, Bayleys Auckland Central).


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Mayor says suffragette memorial must stay

Published 22 November 2005

All the redesigns for Khartoum Place in the Auckland cbd say the tiled mural commemorating the suffragette movement should go, but mayor Dick Hubbard said today the tiles must stay.

The memorial to “one of the most important milestones in New Zealand’s history” was unveiled in 1993 by Irish President Mary Robinson & Governor-general Dame Catherine Tizard but, in a design competition for the walkway between Lorne & Kitchener Sts as part of the council’s multi-million dollar upgrade of the cbd, none of the 12 selected redesigns on which public feedback was sought included the tiled artwork.

Architecture firm Brewer Davidson and Leo Jew were the council’s preferred design team after consultation was completed.

The council discussed options with the artists for relocating the tiles or a possible new artwork at a high-profile cbd site. Since then, however, the council has established that the tiles couldn’t survive relocation.

“This is not about who likes the tiles and who doesn’t. It’s about respecting & preserving an important part of our history. The tiles must stay,” Mr Hubbard said. He wants a new design brief developed that includes the memorial.

The mayor said he would also personally undertake to reinstate the white camellia trees, planted in Albert Park in 1993 as part of suffragette centennial celebrations, which were vandalised and hadn’t been replaced.

Mr Hubbard said he would meet Women’s Affairs Minister Lianne Dalziel, members of the NZ Council for Women and members of the original Suffragette Centennial Committee this week.

Earlier stories:

20 July 2005: Brewer Davidson, Leo Jew to do Khartoum Place redesign

27 February 2005: Khartoum Pl upgrade designs wanted


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