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The transformation of downtown to continue with development opportunity

Published: 26 February 2021

The revitalisation of the city centre’s downtown precinct is set to continue with Panuku Development Auckland and Auckland Transport working together to find a development partner for the Downtown Car Park.

The property, on the corner of Lower Hobson Street and Customs St West, is a significant site in the city centre. Its redevelopment will continue the transformation following the work already completed by the Auckland Council group and private investment.

Following unsolicited interest last year, Auckland Council’s Finance and Performance Committee gave approval to take the property to market for redevelopment in late December 2020 with agreed urban regeneration outcomes.

AT is now considering the transport outcomes required for the site, which will be agreed with the Planning Committee in April ahead of a two-step market process for the sale.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says, “This development has the potential to make a currently unattractive part of the city into a vibrant destination that matches the nearby Commercial Bay precinct and the Viaduct Basin.

“It will replace a currently tired car parking building with a high-quality, well-designed site that helps achieve our City Centre Masterplan vision of creating a vibrant, exciting and environmentally attractive central Auckland that is a thriving residential and employment centre and a world-class place to live, work, visit and do business.”

Auckland Council’s Planning Committee Chair Chris Darby says the regeneration of the site has been signalled for almost a decade.

“This opportunity will continue the transformation of our city centre and the time is right for us to be considering how this property should be used in the future.

“We hope to unlock some innovative ideas for this area to be reconnected to the viaduct and Wynyard Quarter. Currently, this is a challenging part of downtown to navigate and there is a real opportunity to improve the access and public realm.”

Panuku CE David Rankin says sites of this significance present a unique opportunity for urban regeneration in the city centre.

“Already the downtown area has completely changed in the past three years with the redevelopment of Quay Street, the opening of Te Komititanga public space and the completion of Commercial Bay.

“The potential sale gives us an opportunity to deliver more good design and public realm outcomes in this part of the city centre, in line with the council’s City Centre Masterplan.

“The site has been included as a significant opportunity in the masterplan since 2012 and it is important that we make sure any sale improves the environment for people who visit this part of the city centre.”

Auckland Transport Chief Executive Shane Ellison says while the site is currently used for car parking, any redevelopment will need to accommodate the city centre’s future transport needs.

“We are currently exploring what transport outcomes will need to be included with any development agreement. These will change as the way people travel to the city centre evolves and we will need to factor this into any decision making. However, any future planning on the transport outcomes would support AT’s desire to provide even more transport choices for Aucklanders to be able to enjoy the city centre.”

Panuku and Auckland Transport will engage with key stakeholders, including mana whenua, Waitematā Local Board, the Auckland City Centre Advisory Board and Heart of the City about the outcomes ahead of Planning Committee decisions in April, to inform decision-making.

If the urban regeneration and transport outcomes are agreed by the council in the coming months, Panuku anticipates it will take the property to market mid-year 2021.

Agreed urban regeneration outcomes include:

  • a high-quality mixed-use development with active uses fronting public streets and laneways. The mix of uses should support a rich ecosystem of daytime and night-time economy
  • if residential use is included, the opportunity for a mix of typologies
  • the development should be of an outstanding architectural quality that contributes positively to Auckland’s harbour edge cityscape and makes good use of its strategic downtown location
  • building height and bulk should be in accordance with the Auckland Unitary Plan to achieve a human scale podium edge to the street, with a slender tower (or towers) that contribute positively to the skyline
  • Te Aranga design principles are incorporated
  • universal design best practice is achieved at all stages of design
  • commercial and retail development should achieve a minimum five Green Star rating certification.
  • residential development should achieve a minimum eight Home Star rating certification.

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