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Britomart still expensive

Redesign “still $200 million job”

Redesigning Britomart could cost just as much as the original grand version, Auckland City councillors were told at a workshop today.

One difference is that, whereas the city was shouldering the cost of an underground transport centre in the previous version and private developers were to make what they could by developing the site above ground, this time round the city council hopes to cut its outlay by getting money from Transfund NZ and Infrastructure Auckland.

“It is still likely to be a $200 million project. It will, however, be different,” strategic developments director Wayne Donnelly (pictured right) told councillors at the open workshop.

The new version is no grand plan, an interchange (probably all above ground) for passengers using buses, long-distance coaches, ferries, heavy rail (the tunnel taking that two floors down will be completed next month) and light rail (a separate council session on taking that into Queen St was run in the morning). Maybe some parking on the first floor underground.

The heritage buildings would be done up, as the previous scheme envisaged for some of them — and which the council has to get on to soon anyway, because it has a swag of downtown buildings at Britomart with their building warrants of fitness cancelled.

The grand version begun five years ago had five underground levels, parking on the bottom three, the railway entering two down and the bus terminal also below ground, which caused plenty of consternation at the Bus & Coach Association.

Above ground, the previous version had 13 development footprints, for construction of two hotels, an apartment precinct, probably three office blocks and retail space in some of the links, all to be erected over 10 years.

Under that version, the council faced a potential end liability up to $230 million if the developer wanted to return undeveloped footprints, under a standby takeout agreement. Concern at that potential liability for ratepayers was the primary stated cause for opposition to the scheme.

The old version took the council out as a developer and builder, although it was to be a partial financier and the standby arrangement would have left it effectively as a mortgagee in possession of undeveloped sites.

The council now has a working party of councillors to monitor progress on the new project, with council staff working first on the reports they have prepared this month, secondly on getting a design scheme under way and thirdly on getting the results of that in and a project off the drawing board.

The council wants someone else to do the work, to the finally preferred design, but that issue was left out of the workshop discussion. David Hay, previously deputy mayor and a supporter of the previous scheme, raised the possibility of the council ending up precisely where neither the previous batch of councillors nor the present batch want to be: developing a chunk of downtown dirt, with all the consequent liability.

Said John Duthie, city planning mnager: “No.” He said the council would identify the sites that could be released for development, and ensure the neighbourhood would be kept in sympathy with the character of the waterfront.”

Mr Donnelly said the estimate was that the council would fall about $89 million short of its existing $129 million budgeted Britomart funding. The shortfall would be met by Transfund and Infrastructure Auckland paying $58 million toward the transport component and the council selling $31 million of Britomart property.

Under the previous scheme, the council was to sell the 3.2ha of land for $56 million and buy the finished transport centre for $75 million. There were also related transport costs, and Mr Donnelly said the council’s previous commitment to the transport component was $92 million.

The design competition now has to be started, with completion scheduled for November and a full design done after that.

The working party, on what is now named “the Waitemata Waterfront Development Project,” is to meet monthly and the project will go to the full council meeting in March for resolutions on various matters which could not be voted on in a workshop.

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Krukziener case over AMP consent ends

Action withdrawn fortnight after court hearing

Andrew Krukziener’s court action over the resource consent granted to AMP’s waterfront office tower has been discontinued.

Although the hearing had been held and Justice David Tompkins had reserved his decision a fortnight ago, discontinuation means the High Court case is at an end. There will be no judgment and, for AMP, work on site continues.

However, the Waterfront Protection Society’s threatened action over the consent is still on foot, although it hasn’t reached court.

AMP’s leasing of the tower remains at 64%, with a dozen prospective tenants in discussion.

AMP Asset Management’s head of property for New Zealand, Anthony Beverley, said the plaintiff in the court case, No 1 Queen Ltd, withdrew on Wednesday afternoon.

There were discussions between the parties while the lawyers were arguing in court, and Mr Beverley said tonight he “had an inkling it was coming”.

Auckland City Council’s planning fixtures sub-committee decided in May last year not to put the AMPAM tower application through the notification process.

The committee did decide that some neighbours’ approval should be sought — AMP as owner of adjoining sites, CDL as tenant in the Copthorne HarbourCity Hotel, Air New Zealand as major tenant of the Quay Tower to the rear, which was going through a rent review and kicked up a fuss. Also consulted was St Lukes/Westfield, owner and operator of the Downtown shopping centre across Albert St.

The owners of One Queen — Mr Krukziener and partners — were not consulted because that building, on the other corner of Lower Albert and Quay Sts, stands closer to the harbour and would not be affected by shadow or have its views cut, in particular.

When Mr Krukziener said in May this year he was appealing against the consent, the primary focus was the appearance of the AMP tower, which will rise 140m above Quay St and have just over 30,000m² of office space on 23 floors. Including podium, retail and parking levels it will have 31 floors.

The One Queen argument in court, presented by Mark Cooper, focused on aspects of granting resource consent which seemed, to me, removed from the key requirement: that effects will be minor and that the councillors handling the decision are satisfied written authority has been obtained from everyone who might be adversely affected.

The central word is satisfied. You can argue about how minor the effects of a 140m tower might be (and in a built-up central business district you can argue that they are minor, despite the proportions), but if the councillors are satisfied on that and by the written approvals they required, there should be no more argument.

AMPAM got resource consent in May last year, and again in August after some design changes.

Mr Beverley said removal of the uncertainty caused by the High Court judicial review would help the leasing programme, but the protection society’s action had still to be resolved.

That action was not opposed to the whole development but was aimed at having the street level redesigned.

“We’ve yet to see if they have standing. We think their case is really flawed,” Mr Beverley said.

Mr Krukziener was in meetings until early evening and has yet to explain his withdrawal.

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Downtown public drinking ban

Council pursues law & order campaign

Auckland City Council has approved the recommendation of its law & order committee to ban drinking in public places in the city centre from 9pm to 6am, from Thursday evenings to Sunday mornings. The ban is planned to come into force in late September. The ban will give police the authority to move people on, remove their alcohol or arrest them. Fines of up to $500 can be imposed.

The ban will not affect customers inside licensed bars, clubs & restaurants, or using pavement seating attached to licensed premises.

Initially, the ban will cover an area roughly bordered by Quay St, Hobson St, Karangahape Rd, Queen St, Mayoral Drive, Kitchener St, Fort St, Britomart Place and the public streets around Viaduct Harbour.

The council is also exploring the possibility, with the Viaduct Harbour owners, of extending the ban into private areas of Viaduct Harbour, and with council parks staff to see whether a ban extension would be justified for Albert Park, Pigeon Park & Symonds St Cemetery.

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Auckland City central area consent activity

Central area resource consents approved by Auckland City Council in August included these:

40 Drake St, residential additions, application by Noel Bland (Quantum Holdings Ltd, Dialogue Partners Ltd & Juno Exports Ltd).

9-11 Durham Lane, modifications to the Bluestone Store, application by University Trust.

10 Scotia Place, conversion of floors 6 & 8 from office to residential, 360 Group Ltd (Brent Thomson, also Punch Project Facilitators Ltd & 360 Unlimited Ltd).

41 Albert St, tavern in residential precinct, Mad Dogs & Englishmen (Albert Street) Ltd (Daphne Fourie).

95-99 Beaumont St/101-103 Fanshawe St, new general office building, Princewood Investments Ltd (Trans Tasman Properties Ltd).

302-322 Queen St, demolish Regent, Odeon & Westend cinemas (the St James complex) & build 239-unit building, Fox Ward Investments Ltd (Paul Doole).

19A Princes St, fitout of former synagogue, Auckland University.

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Jacobsen the new Australian arena partner

Council raises its input to $58 million

Auckland City Council has turned to a new Australian partner for its Quay Park arena project.

The council will sign a formal heads of agreement to work on plans for a 12,000-seat indoor arena with a consortium led by Sydney-based Jacobsen Venue Management Pty Ltd.

The council will increase its contribution to the capital cost of the arena from $50 million to $58 million. The consortium will contribute the balance of the estimated $68 million base cost.

Jacobsen Venue Management is part of a well-known Australian venue management company with a long track record which includes promoting & managing the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Newcastle Entertainment Centre, Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre and Her Majesty’s Theatre in Brisbane.

Other consortium members are Bovis Lend Lease (acting as project manager) and Mainzeal Construction Ltd of Auckland. Leading architects are Crawford Architects, whose track record includes the Minnesota Stadium, Fenway Park Masterplan (home of the Boston Red Sox) and the Perth Convention & Exhibition Centre.

The Jacobsen-led consortium was the council’s 2nd preferred proponent when it called for expressions of interest in the development & operation of the indoor arena.

They’ve been negotiating since August, when Abigroup Ltd of Sydney pulled out of exclusive negotiations.

Cllr Scott Milne, chairman of the council’s recreation & events committee, said the heads of agreement would provide for a 6-month exclusive dealings period, during which legal & business issues would be dealt with in confidence and Jacobsen will get on with the arena’s design.

The aim is an agreement to develop the arena as a public/private partnership, with Jacobsen owning & managing the arena, including taking on the operational risks.

Subject to the successful negotiation of the detail, the consortium will aim to have construction completed by the end of 2005.

Cllr Milne said Abigroup’s resource consent would continue to apply provided the new consortium design falls within its parameters.
Websites: Jacobsen Venue Management
Jacobsen Entertainment

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