Could Auckland's newest mall be revived by a $37 million neighbourhood expansion?
That's the plan at NorthWest, criticised as being a ghost town but about to be invigorated by expansion.
Two-thirds of a hectare of offices, restaurants and shops are rising across the street from the new mall, aimed to bring hundreds of people to work, shop and dine.
Stride Property chief executive Peter Alexander and centre manager Jennifer Andrews invited the Herald on a tour of the site where Fletcher Construction's Michael Barber is managing the project, after some retailers complained the mall was a ghost town.
Half of the NorthWest Two project is commercial premises and the rest shops and restaurants. It is due to open in October and is flanked by Te Pumanawa Square, developed by Auckland Council.
Wine firm Constellation Brands New Zealand has signed an unconditional agreement on 2200sq m of office space at NorthWest Two and Sam Glaetzer, Constellation Brands' managing director, said staying connected to the West Auckland region was a key factor for the business in its decision to move to the new offices.
Alexander said restaurants Goode Brothers Bar and Restaurant, Hansen, PappaRich, Sushi Tomi, Nando's and Clever & Co had leased space at NorthWest Two which will have 19 retail outlets.
WATCH: Peter Alexander describe the next state of NorthWest development:
Andrews said publicity about the mall had resulted in more shoppers.
"We had customers say they wanted to see it," she said.
Alexander said it takes time for people to change their habits and become aware of any new centre.
"We do market research about whether people are finding it hard to get here, etc," he said, referring to Colmar Brunton work.
"Rent reductions are between us and the retailers."
One retailer had complained NorthWest was too quiet.
"I am one of many financially desperate and concerned tenants at the new NorthWest shopping mall. The so-called mega-mall just isn't getting customers, it's a ghost town. There are many desperate tenants out there, too scared to say anything publicly but desperate for some help. I've had some call me crying and fearful they are about to lose their house. Another came into my store and told me that they have to sell another business to keep funding the rent," they wrote in a widely distributed letter.
However, Alexander and Andrews said the 100-shop centre was just the first part of a much bigger scheme, rising now to be ready for an October opening.
"We've never said NorthWest Shopping Centre itself was particularly large. But it's part of a much bigger 56ha project which if you look at the area, it's large and impressive," Alexander said.
"The whole of Westgate Town Centre is providing high quality and much needed social infrastructure. There are many organisations involved in delivering the vision - Auckland Council, NZ Retail Property Group, Kiwi Property Group, Foodstuffs, Bunnings and of course Stride."
NorthWest and NorthWest Two were at the heart of that new town centre but Alexander said Kiwi's new Westgate Lifestyle Centre and Auckland Council's library and community centre were also major assets. "We are very proud of what we have delivered and confident in the future."
• Opposite NorthWest Shopping Centre.
• $37 million retail, office expansion.
• Four buildings and 7700sq m.
• Due to open in October.
• Fletcher Construction won the contract.
• Main structures now up.
• Roof fittings and windows about to be installed.
See a Google map with the location of the new mall here: