Anne Gibson

Anne Gibson is the Property editor of the NZ Herald

Aotea Square's Metro Centre expands

JNJ Investments bought the Metro Centre last year and is redeveloping the Queen St property as an entertainment hub. Photo / Supplied
JNJ Investments bought the Metro Centre last year and is redeveloping the Queen St property as an entertainment hub. Photo / Supplied

The new owners of Auckland's big cinema and shopping Metro Centre are redeveloping it as an entertainment hub.

Carl's Jr is about to open in the old Borders Bookshop, in addition to a new 10-pin bowling alley, indoor maze and golfing floor.

Andrew Ng, operations manager at JNJ Management which runs the Metro Centre Management and owns the property through JNJ Investments, said Carl's Jr was scheduled to open there around the end of October.

"We have to put in escalators and there will be two - one from Queen St and one from the main foodcourt inside," he said, referring to the existing basement-level international foodcourt beneath the cinemas escalators.

"We're spending $8.5 million and this is an ideal use of the property," he said of the big upgrade, citing foot traffic and proximity to other entertainment facilities including the Civic Theatre, Aotea Centre and the cinemas.

Carl's Jr was a destination and he predicted the restaurant would be extremely popular.

The American headquartered Carl's chain has come in for strong criticism for its calorific food but Ng is unconcerned.

"There's many other fast food operators on Queen St," he said.

Russel Creedy, restaurant Brands chief executive, said this week a Queen St Carl's Jr would open in October.

Chris Haynes, manager of the new Metro Bowling Lanes, said resource consents were in place.

"It's going to be a significant change to the standards of Auckland bowling centres. Some of them could do with a bit of a shakeup. It is a totally different type of design, the latest in lighting and sound and just the way of doing things will be different," he said.

The new hall would cater for 200 to 250 people at once and offer three groups of four lanes downstairs, four full lanes upstairs and four shorter lanes.

JNJ Investments bought the building, via Jones Lang LaSalle, last year at a discount to the government valuation of $57 million.

Chris Dibble, Jones Lang's associate research director, said fast food was a major magnet for consumer spending along Queen St.

"Those outlets are very conscious that Auckland's CBD provides a large customer base with approximately 90,000 people working in the city centre and 25,000 people living there," Dibble said.

"A further 60,000-plus are in tertiary education there and 12,000 tourists visit it each day.

"Luxury retail has primarily located in lower Queen St, High St and Britomart."

He said food outlets catered to varying pools of consumer tastes and requirements.

"The top of Queen St remains very popular for food outlets catering to movie and theatre goers, office workers, residents and [tertiary] students," Dibble said.

All tastes met
* Between Civic Theatre and Aotea Square
* 291-297 Queen St
* 12-screen 3D Event Cinemas complex with Gold Class, IMAX
* Basement international food court, bars, restaurants and shops
* Carl's Jr moving into Borders Bookshop area
* 10-pin bowling alley being developed
* A maze is also being built

- NZ Herald

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