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Port celebrates 3 ships berthed at container terminal – and will apply to dredge channel

The vessels pictured are the Gottfried Schulte at Fergusson North, Elisabeth-S (pictured with tugs alongside) & Venetia (southern end of Fergusson).

Ports of Auckland Ltd highlighted one milestone at its container terminal last week – 3 container vessels berthed at the same time – and gave warning of a consent application which has always brought protest, dredging of the channel.

The Gottfried Schulte was the first container ship to berth at the new Fergusson North Wharf, which is not yet operational, while 2 other vessels were serviced at the main wharf.

Fergusson North will eventually be the port’s premium berth, with the deepest water & largest cranes, capable of handling ships of up to 11,000 TEU (1 TEU = 1 20ft container). 

The new cranes were delivered in October and are being commissioned. During the next few months a number of container ships will call at the berth as part of the testing & commissioning of the cranes’ systems. This will be followed by trial unloading operations, and Fergusson North Wharf will be fully operational after the first stage of the port’s automation goes live in early 2020.

Ports of Auckland commercial relationships general manager Craig Sain said: “This project is part of our 30-year masterplan, which is designed to keep up with Auckland’s rapidly growing freight needs. Our 2 existing container berths are often both full and there is strong demand for a third berth. The new berth, our high-productivity cranes & container terminal automation will significantly increase our capacity and be a great benefit to importers, exporters & shippers.

Completion of Fergusson North Wharf is one of the final stages of Auckland’s container terminal expansion project, which was granted resource consent in 1998. The project included 10ha of reclamation to create additional terminal space, and this is expected to be fully complete by the end of 2020. After this, Ports of Auckland has made a commitment that there will be no more reclamation in the Waitemata Harbour.”

Channel dredging consent

Ports of Auckland told the Hauraki Gulf Forum, in a brief report for the forum’s meeting on Friday, that it intended to seek a 10-15-year resource consent this year to deepen the channel to enable ships with a draft of up to 15.2m to enter the port, and wanted to discuss this proposal further with the forum.

Port company communications manager Matt Ball told the forum the company would use a mechanical dredge to deepen the channel, and that no blasting would be required.

“The largest container ships we handle at the moment carry around 5000 TEUs and have a draft of 12.7m. In the next 3-5 years we’re expecting to see ships that can carry up to 11,000 TEUs, with a draft of up to 15.2m.

“We need to deepen parts of the channel so these vessels can get to the port. The shallowest parts of the Waitemata navigation channel are 12.5m deep at low tide and need to be deepened to 14.5m at low tide to allow the next generation of ships to safely use our channel. Ships with a draft of over 14.2m will only access our port when the tide is sufficiently high.

“Ports of Auckland will use a mechanical dredge to deepen the channel. This is a large digger sitting on a barge. The digger has an extra-long arm and it reaches down into the sea to scoop out sediment & seabed material.

“The bed of the channel is mostly soft material like marine muds, mudstones and some sandstone & gritstone, which is easily removed by a digger. No blasting is required.”

Attribution: Hauraki Gulf Forum agenda.

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Precinct secures tenants for Wynyard & 1 Queen St

Precinct Properties NZ Ltd has secured the Media Design School as a tenant in its 10 Madden St development in the Wynyard Quarter, and law firm Bell Gully in the refurbished 1 Queen St, which will be incorporated into the Commercial Bay precinct.

The Media Design School will occupy 4760m² in 10 Madden St on a 15-year lease term. As announced in November, Precinct committed to stage 2 in the Wynyard Quarter on an uncommitted basis. Chief executive Scott Pritchard said yesterday the Media Design School lease took leasing commitment to 60% of the project’s office area.

He added: “The addition of the Media Design School to our Innovation Precinct is significant and demonstrates the momentum that’s underway to create a vital new creative community. We believe Wynyard Quarter will be on a par with leading international innovation precincts and, having secured one of the world’s leading design & digital tertiary institutions, is a huge advance.”

The building, scheduled for completion at the end of 2020, will have a total net lettable area of 8290m². Mr Pritchard said that, once fully leased, the project should generate a yield on cost in excess of 7.0%.

At 1 Queen St, Mr Pritchard said Bell Gully had committed unconditionally to about 3800m² of office space. The law firm has been a tenant of the Vero Centre on Shortland St for 18 years.

Mr Pritchard said the 1 Queen St project was 76% precommitted following the previously announced commitment by InterContinental Hotels Group to 11 levels of the building: “We are delighted to have secured leading law firm Bell Gully at 1 Queen St, 3 years ahead of practical completion. Securing this commitment from outside our existing portfolio is a great result and illustrates the quality of the Commercial Bay precinct.”

Attribution: Precinct release.

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Law firm says it’s leaving Vero Centre, not saying exactly when

Law firm Bell Gully has told its Auckland landlord, Kiwi Property Group Ltd, it will vacate its premises in the Vero Centre on Shortland St between the 2023-25 financial years.

Separately, Precinct Properties NZ Ltd said Bell Gully would move to its 1 Queen St office tower, which is to be refurbished over the next 3 years. It will have a hotel on the lower 11 floors, offices above, and now has 76% precommitment.

Bell Gully hasn’t determined exactly when it will leave. The firm has been a Vero Centre tenant since the building opened 18 years ago. It currently occupies 5912m² on 5 floors.

Kiwi Property chief executive Clive Mackenzie said: “We wish Bell Gully every success in their onward journey. While we are disappointed to see the firm leave, the advance notice by Bell Gully provides us with sufficient time to begin discussions with prospective tenants.”

The Vero Centre is 94% occupied, with a weighted average lease term of 7.0 years. Kiwi Property’s whole office portfolio has 98% occupancy and a portfolio weighted average lease term of 10.0 years.

Attribution: Kiwi Property & Precinct Properties releases.

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Private car’s days as symbol of power coming to an end

Never mind those petty rules of staying in your lane, indicating to change, obeying the traffic lights, feeding parking meters, accommodating your vehicle in an approved parking garage. No matter how beat up, or that it’s a polished company vehicle thrust into your care to proclaim your high status. Your car is a symbol of your independence & superiority.

Or, in downtown Auckland, it was.

In March, Auckland Council’s Auckland Development Office will file a report recommending trials to pedestrianise nominated streets in the central business district.

Queen St below Mayoral Drive is the primary candidate. High & Lorne Sts are among the smaller streets also likely to be high on the list.

Quay St would be reduced to 2 lanes, making it much more a pedestrian environment across from the wharves. Eastern suburbs traffic would be directed into the new traffic zones.

But before the trials, other preparation is needed. The development office wants traffic to be guided into zones, and not allowed to cross zones, and the office knows the pedestrians-only trials won’t work unless those preparations are in place.

Turning whole streets over to people on foot – plus bikes, prams, scooters, restricted visits by service vehicles and, in some streets, buses & trams – has been a venture too far for councillors for decades.

When Auckland City Council hired Ludo Campbell-Reid for the new role of urban design specialist in 2006 – coming from Tower Hamlets Council in London after earlier roles as chief executive of Urban Design London and in Cape Town – the notion of pedestrianising Queen St downhill from Mayoral Drive was getting, well, a foot into people’s thinking.

The city council turned down that idea, and also spurned pedestrianising a couple of blocks by a narrow margin. One change that did come, in 2007, was the introduction of bus lanes down Queen St. In addition, Lower Queen St between Customs & Quay Sts, and a couple of side streets – the lower end of Swanson St and Vulcan Lane – had their vehicle access ended.

But Mr Campbell-Reid switched from full-on pedestrianisation for major thoroughfares to the introduction of shared spaces, carried out in Elliot St, part of Fort St, and most recently in O’Connell St.

Meanwhile, gridlock took over, made worse over the last 2 years by the streetworks for the city rail link on Albert, Customs & Victoria Sts. People have watched – I think in awe, certainly not scowling – as they’ve waited at traffic lights and been able to observe the tunnelling below them.

And slowly the tide has turned. By the end of 2021, all going well, those tunnels are going to transport hundreds of passengers every 10 minutes or so into 3 central stations – people who have left the status symbol, the car, at home, or don’t even have one there.

The council development office, which Mr Campbell-Reid heads, can rely on those waves of passengers to lift support for locking cars out of the dominance they’ve long had in the city centre.

Those traffic trials are the biggest changes in the review of the city centre masterplan, approved in 2012, this time combined with the waterfront plan as the City Centre Masterplan 2040.

Proposed digital presentation of the new masterplan will allow for rolling reviews.

Auckland Council’s planning committee agreed unanimously yesterday to the development office’s proposals:

  • Digitisation in time to inform the council’s 2021-31 long-term plan
  • Rolling updates rather than 6-yearly updates
  • New content for public consultation & committee approval by July 2019
  • Maori outcomes
  • Grafton Gully boulevard
  • Access for everyone – the friendlier name for pedestrianisation
  • Trials & tactical urbanism initiatives to test & for consultation
  • Trial an “open streets” initiative in the city centre and work with interested local boards to trial it in other centres

Cllr Richard Hills summed it up: “At the Victoria-Queen St intersection at lunchtime, we’ve got 4500 people crossing & 500 cars. We’ve halved the number of cars coming down Queen St already, from 21,000 to 10,000. We have 7000 bikes/day coming into the city. That’s [the equivalent of] a whole lane from Silverdale.”

Link:
Committee agenda item 9, City centre masterplan 2040   

Earlier story:
12 January 2006: Auckland hires London urban design specialist Campbell-Reid

Attribution: Council committee meeting & agenda.

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Mulpha buys Waldorf Stadium hotel

Mulpha Australia Ltd has bought the leasehold 4.5 star Waldorf Stadium Apartment Hotel at Quay Park in Auckland.

Colliers & CBRE declared last Thursday the hotel sale was the biggest in New Zealand since 2015 and biggest in Auckland since 2006 – without saying anything about the price of this transaction.

The 178-unit strata title development was sold subject to a new 11-year performance lease underpinned by Japanese serviced apartment conglomerate Daiwa House Group, which acquired the Australia & New Zealand Waldorf serviced apartment business in 2017 and has plans to expand in the region.

Mulpha chief executive Greg Shaw said: “We were attracted to its position in a key gateway city, strategic location in the heart of the Auckland cbd, together with several strategic opportunities to add additional value to this asset over the short to medium term, working in conjunction with the hotel operator Daiwa House Group.”

The hotel has a mix of studio, one-, 2- & 3-bedroom self-contained apartments. It has a long-term ground lease to the Ngati Whatua o Orakei Maori Trust Board.

Mulpha Australia is a subsidiary of Malaysia-listed Mulpha International Bhd, in turn controlled by Hong Kong company Allied Group Ltd, which also controls listed Hong Kong non-bank financial institution Sun Hung Kai & Co Ltd. Lee Seng Huang, Lee Seng Hui & their sister, Lee Su Hwei – Malaysians educated in Sydney, the children of 1980s corporate raider Lee Ming Tee – operate their family interests through Allied.

The hotel was developed by Perron Developments Ltd.

Earlier story:
9 October 2009: Apartments at centre of Blue Chip case go on market

Attribution: Agency release.

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