John Dalzell: Commercial partners a must for waterfront plan

Wynyard Quarter. Photo / Doug Sherring
Wynyard Quarter. Photo / Doug Sherring

Herald columnist Brian Rudman, like many Aucklanders, has a passion for the city's waterfront that is keenly shared by Waterfront Auckland, the council organisation tasked with the revitalisation of Auckland's waterfront.

For that reason I want to set the record straight about some points raised earlier this week about the nature of the developments that will happen in the Wynyard Quarter.

Successful waterfronts around the world have a mix of commercial, residential and public uses. Our aim is to get the balance between these elements right, as reflected in the Waterfront Plan adopted by the council last year after considerable public engagement.

So to hear talk of Wynyard Quarter becoming an extension of the CBD couldn't be further from the truth. We will never be a replica of the CBD. However, being bold comes at a cost and without anchor commercial tenants that fit with our overall vision for a diverse precinct, this once in a lifetime development opportunity is much less likely to become a reality.

Business will be a part of the mix of activities that attract people to the waterfront. But it will also help to pay for the quality amenities and infrastructure that the public expects.

We are building a new part of the city and with the success of North Wharf and Silo Park the bar has already been raised high for the next stages of waterfront development. The same commitment to high quality public amenity and open space that people already love about the waterfront will inform the Wynyard Quarter development with its mix of residential and commercial uses.

Our next step is to leverage the public investment already made in the area, with the appropriate private sector participation. This private funding will enable Waterfront Auckland to develop the leasehold land that we own on behalf of Auckland Council and all Aucklanders.

Our responsibility is to find the right developers and investors to help build this unique part of the city. Work is already under way to create stunning spaces in Halsey and Daldy Sts with streets that reflect some of the elements of Jellicoe St that have already met with such positive responses.

We will shortly be finding commercial partners who will help us to develop the rest of the Wynyard Central precinct (the block bound by Jellicoe, Madden, Halsey and Daldy Sts). This block will provide a floor area of approximately 150,000sq m and will include a mix of commercial uses (about 50,000sq m) in an Innovation Precinct as well as approximately 1000 residential units.

Providing places for people to live and work means we will also need to provide playgrounds, childcare facilities, parks, while making provision for the corner shop and medical facilities that any community expects.

Creating a safe walkable environment with plentiful green spaces and the amenities essential to building a diverse community is well advanced in all our planning. An example is the Westhaven promenade, a walkway and cycleway from the Harbour Bridge around Westhaven to the Wynyard Quarter, that work will soon begin on.

Enhanced public amenities like the waterfront promenade, combined with a calendar of events and activities will reflect the unique character of the waterfront.

Waterfront Auckland will control the quality, delivery and timing of the future development through the use of a range of tools including our urban design and sustainability frameworks. We will only work with private partners who share our commitment to deliver a new place in the city that will make Aucklanders proud. But without business as our partners, delivering a waterfront fit for the world's most liveable city will simply not happen.

John Dalzell is chief executive of Waterfront Auckland.

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