Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

Brown wooing big-name retailers

Mayor's Sydney foray talks up Auckland's investment allure but councillor questions focus on the CBD.

Len Brown says the CBD has 247,000sq m of retail space yet only 3.2 per cent vacancy. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Len Brown says the CBD has 247,000sq m of retail space yet only 3.2 per cent vacancy. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Auckland Mayor Len Brown wants to woo more big-name international retailers to the Super City.

He told an audience at Sydney's The Westin that Auckland was the third-fastest growing city in Australasia, its central business district population would double from 25,000 to 52,000 by 2036, it had 60,000 students, 12,000 tourists visited daily and international visitors spent $4.7 billion in the year to last September.

One property, 45 Queen St near the Customs St intersection, had daily exposure to 23,000 pedestrians when it was surveyed during week days in May and prime retail rents ranked from $1600/sq m to $2000/sq m for a store of about 200sq m on Lower Queen St, Brown said.

Showing images of the Gucci store on Queen St near Louis Vuitton, the shared space on Darby St and Vulcan Lane, he told how Auckland's CBD had 247,000sq m of retail space yet a low vacancy of just 3.2 per cent.

The city had Australasia's highest proportion of immigrants, its CBD had 90,000 workers which would grow to 140,000 by 2032 and $3 billion of new infrastructure and transport improvements were planned there by 2021.

Nathan Male and Erin Palmer of retail leasing specialists Metro Commercial named four premises around the lower end of Queen St where shop space might be available soon.

Westfield New Zealand's Downtown shopping centre at the foot of Queen St was singled out for mention, being in the line of the Central Rail Loop and with plans by the authorities to buy it, the agents said. "There are several developments proposed which will generate prime retail stores for your brands, some more definite than others," they said.

One dominant corner site of 185sq m could be available early next year, and a 68-level hotel was planned for a site around Elliott St, with the possibility of shops in the lower levels.

Other 300sq m to 600sq m areas over two levels could be available in the next year.

"There are several developments proposed which will generate prime retail stores for your brands," the agents told the luxury retailers.

Cameron Brewer, a city councillor and chair of the Auckland Business Advisory Panel, asked why Brown had promoted the CBD at the expense of other areas such as Newmarket.

But retail leasing specialists laughed at this, saying big-name retailers in the league Brown was trying to lure would only consider the CBD and probably no other location in New Zealand, certainly not Newmarket. Brewer also criticised Brown's powerpoint as "tacky to say the least for luxury retailers in Sydney".

Brown should have waited to make his address before councillors signed off the regional retail action plan, he said.

"The rest of region's retailers will be asking what about them."

- NZ Herald

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