Property editor of the NZ Herald

A$600m Newmarket plans - and David Jones?

David Jones in Newmarket? Department store is new anchor
Megamall plans for Newmarket from Scentre's investment presentation this week.
Megamall plans for Newmarket from Scentre's investment presentation this week.

Australasia's biggest retail owner/manager has unveiled new A$600 million plans for Newmarket, sparking speculation it might bring David Jones to Auckland.

ASX-listed Scentre Group revealed details in an investor presentation, saying it would start work at Two Double Seven in the second quarter of next year, finish by the final quarter of 2019 and indicating it would bring many new businesses to an expanded centre.

Scentre's image of how Newmarket could look once it is completed.
Scentre's image of how Newmarket could look once it is completed.

'New anchors' were listed as "a department store" fuelling speculation it could be David Jones, although that company has made no announcement about Newmarket or Auckland.

Farmers, Countdown and cinemas are listed by Scentre as other new anchors and 160 "new specialty retail stores" is also listed in the document.

The new centre will be 7.8ha or 78,000sq m of new floor space when it is finished, Scentre's plans showed. New images of an expanded mall were also released, one showing a glass air bridge over Mortimer Pass.

That will enable a level-one pedestrian connection between the existing mall and the site opposite which Scentre plans to develop.

Mark Knoff-Thomas, Newmarket Business Association chief executive, welcomed Scentre's update, saying the centre's expansion would be a huge boost to the area.

"This is going to go ahead next year. We think it's a transformation of Newmarket and it will set Newmarket up as one of the best retail experiences in Australasia, not just New Zealand. Overall, total merchant transactions in the Newmarket precinct were $622m, up $19m in the year to June, 2016," he said.

"These plans show a new food court on the top level," he noted.

However, this is not the first time Scentre has predicted action at Newmarket.

Read: Massive plan to upgrade malls

Earlier this year, Peter Allen, Sydney-based chief executive of Scentre which owns and manages the 977-shop, $1.3 billion Westfield malls in New Zealand, told the Herald he expected the first redevelopment this year.

"In terms of the timing, we've been working on Newmarket for a number of years and were very close prior to the GFC to pulling the trigger," he said. This was deferred and the area has been used for car parking since," Allen said.

"We have a plan we're finalising. We're hoping to be in a position where, by the end of this year, we'll be able to commence. "It will be a new Farmers, new cinemas in terms of entertainment and a number of other international retailers we have negotiations with."

In July, David Jones opened its first New Zealand store on Wellington's Lambton Quay.

David Jones chief executive Ian Nairn has said the company is not planning on expanding beyond Wellington.

The new NorthWest shopping centre opened at Massey in west Auckland last year and in the last three weeks, global retail giants H&M and Zara have opened new outlets at Sylvia Park, owned by Kiwi Property.

- NZ Herald

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