Parking building adds to crowding on waterfront

By Anne Gibson

Auckland's precious waterfront, which just got a huge cement storage plant, is now getting a six-storey parking building.

A 1250-park block is rising on the Quay St/Britomart Place/Scene Lane corner as the latest addition to the $1 billion Britomart heritage precinct.

Alex Swney, Heart of the City chief executive, says there is little that can be done to avoid the situation.

"This is an imperfect outcome but we understand how we ended up in this place. It takes cars off the streets."

The new parking building is long and squat to protect the views of people in the Scene apartment blocks.

"There are a thousand good reasons why one wouldn't support car park buildings on our waterfront," Mr Swney said.

"Most Aucklanders find it hugely disappointing that such a structure is compromised by sanctioned view shafts for the much-maligned Scene apartment buildings behind it.

"However, there is the not unreasonable requirement to support the adjacent commercial developments within the Britomart area with a parking allocation.

"Incremental development plans inevitably deliver this sort of outcome - a compromise that everyone walks away from mildly dissatisfied.

"If there is a lesson Auckland can take from this and the plans for Queens Wharf and the just-announced plans for the ASB building on Jellicoe St, it is that we need that masterplan that once and for all recognises that we have a spectacular waterfront, that it is one of our major defining assets and we need to celebrate it rather than build it out."

This week, Mr Swney complained about ASB's planned 52m-high Wynyard Quarter building, which he said was in the wrong place and too high for the waterfront.

Car parking is not the best use of the Quay St land, he said, citing Perth's urban planning where such blocks were restricted to the city heart's edge. Public transport from the blocks into the centre enabled Perth to preserve the most precious land for the best uses.

Last month, Mr Swney criticised Golden Bay Cement's $45 million plant, which he called urban vandalism.

Now, the block near Golden Bay is getting the parking building and tenants in refurbished and new office blocks nearby will enjoy the seafront views as they park in the new block.

The block is rising on the old Oriental Markets site at 88 Quay St beside the Countdown supermarket.

Hawkins Construction is building it for Cooper and Company, which is developing the Britomart.

Sarah Hull, Cooper and Company marketing director, said the building was designed by Ignite Architect and Richard Johnston of Sydney.

Plans had changed substantially from the originals dating back to 2007.

Shops, a multiplex cinema and apartments were then envisaged but the recession killed most of that.

A new 2000sq m Les Mills gym will take up most of the ground floor and a 700sq m retail tenancy is being marketed.

The site was the best place for the car park, Ms Hull said, and a third of it would be for public use.

Most of the car parks are for office workers in a nearby new building and refurbishment.

- NZ Herald

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