In March this year Waterfront Auckland sought expressions of interest in approximately $1 billion of private investment for the next stage of development in Wynyard Quarter - the Wynyard Central precinct. The net was cast far and wide and after significant interest from parties in Asia, North America and Australia, and throughout New Zealand, the final three parties have been selected for the residential and commercial developments.

The hotel offering in particular has attracted significant international interest and two parties are in the final evaluation stage of the sales process. Waterfront Auckland aims to be able to announce the selected development partners by the end of this year.

Financial and legal structures will be confirmed before the design, consenting, planning and pre-development process kicks into gear next year. Construction on the first 100-150 apartments is expected to start in late 2015.

Significance

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• Wynyard Central holds significant potential as a showcase development, one that exemplifies NZ's ability in design, innovation and construction.

• The development looks to re-define what inner city residential living is all about; this has inter-generational implications for how Auckland as a region accommodates population growth as it provides a meaningful alternative to suburban living.

• It is also a practical measure: by bringing people closer to the jobs in the city there will be less pressure on infrastructure and transport.

• In terms of commercial development and the innovation precinct, there's massive potential for the agglomeration benefits of co-locating ICT and digital with marine industries (look at NZ's IP on show at the America's Cup in San Francisco recently).

Sustainability

Sustainability is a key emphasis for the redevelopment: There have been consultations with sustainability industry experts and collaboration with organisations including The New Zealand Green Building Council and Auckland Council. The Sustainability Development Framework establishes development expectations for future waterfront development projects and targets with which to measure the area's progress and success.

The framework outlines five key strategies: high performance green buildings, renewable energy, sustainable transport, exemplar projects and adaptation to change.

The first tangible illustration of the framework in action will be Wynyard Central, which aims to achieve international best practice and provide an exemplar for New Zealand through the creation of a low carbon precinct.

• There is a genuine push to create New Zealand's most sustainable precinct, tangible standards and targets that development partners must adhere to.

• The aim is for a significant reduction in stationary energy, greenhouse gas emissions, grid electricity consumption, water demand, stormwater discharge, private vehicle travel and household operating costs.

Some of the development expectations in the framework include:

• A requirement for all office buildings to achieve a 5 Green Star rating.

• All residential to achieve a 7 Homestar rating as a minimum.

• 75 per cent of the precinct's roof space to be covered by solar PV panels.

• A requirement to maximise credits in precinct priority areas (energy, water, waste and transport), and rainwater reuse for non-potable uses such as toilet flushing, laundry and irrigation is expected precinct-wide.

Economic benefits

• The updated "Building the waterfront economy" by PwC focuses on the area controlled by Waterfront Auckland. It looks at the key industries operating in that space including cruise, events and tourism and the resulting impacts of a redeveloped waterfront on them and the construction industry.

• Highlights in the report include that by 2040, total ongoing employment benefits including upstream and downstream impacts amount to 39,400 full time equivalents supported by economic activity on the waterfront, producing $4.12 billion in GDP on an ongoing basis.

• Nearly 340 full time equivalent workers are expected to be directly employed on average in construction work on the waterfront at any given time between now and 2040, peaking in 2017 and 2018 when 950 people are expected to be employed on a one-year basis.

• The importance of urban regeneration projects to economic growth was further emphasised last month with construction, technology and architecture at the forefront of employment growth according to the website Seek.

Public / private equation

• The Wynyard Central development and the area's regeneration as a whole, illustrates the importance of seeding public investment in infrastructure and spaces and how that has the potential to deliver significant private investment. It's a question of improving ratios as demonstrated in other similar developments internationally.

• Since 2010, $156 million of capital works have been delivered within Waterfront Auckland's area of control including public spaces and buildings as part of the first stage of the Wynyard Quarter regeneration, the redevelopment of Queens Wharf as a public space and Shed 10 as an events and cruise ship facility. Over the same period there has been $132 million of private investment. By June 2017, $355 million of council investment is planned with an anticipated $625 million of private investment.