2017 is going to be a really exciting year for Precinct. We've got $1 billion of development underway with our three projects Wynyard Quarter, Commercial Bay and Bowen Campus and this year they'll be a key focus for our business in terms of leasing and construction -- the public will start to see these buildings really change and take shape.
How does that compare with 2016? How did last year shape up for you and your staff?
Last year was an incredibly busy year for our staff and as a business we achieved some significant goals such as commencing construction on Commercial Bay and Bowen Campus, and finishing the first building -- Mason Brothers Building -- at Wynyard Quarter. During 2016 we would have leased a total of around 100,000sq m across our existing portfolio and upcoming developments and our portfolio occupancy is 99 per cent.
Our staff have been outstanding and it's fair to say they will be enjoying a relaxing break over the Christmas period -- especially as 2017 doesn't look to be any quieter. We have a small team of highly skilled professionals who have been supported by an exceptional consultant team.
Not surprisingly, we have grown our team significantly during 2016 and expect to do the same in 2017.
What are the issues affecting your industry and what impact are these likely to have over the next 12 months?
The biggest issue for Auckland commercial property is probably supply and demand. Auckland's population continues to rise, the economy is buoyant and with the investment being made in infrastructure there will be more and more people working in the city centre in the future.
However, supply is constrained and increasing construction costs make this more challenging. This will see demand for quality commercial space tighten up and this in turn may have an impact on rentals.
For Wellington, building seismic strength is a major industry issue.
Following the most recent earthquakes, there is once again a renewed focus on the seismic performance of buildings with owners being required to strengthen their buildings and provide more transparency to their occupiers.
Going into an election year, what are the three biggest issues the Government needs to solve?
As owners of prime commercial real estate in the CBD infrastructure and housing supply (and cost of building) are going to be particularly important for us. Personally, I see social equality as a significant issue -- particularly in Auckland where the city is growing at such a significant pace.
What role does the business community have in tackling these problems?
I think some of the best outcomes can be achieved when public and private sectors work together. As an example we've been working closely with Auckland Council and Auckland Transport on a broader masterplan for the Commercial Bay area.
As a result, Precinct -- through Fletchers -- will be constructing a section of the CRL tunnels on behalf of Auckland Transport, and we're working closely with their contractors to ensure the works are co-ordinated and provide a seamless experience for the general public.