Damien Grant: Asian-style future awaits

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The commercial opportunities of urban city living are obvious. Photo / Thinkstock
The commercial opportunities of urban city living are obvious. Photo / Thinkstock

If you are overweight and travelling to China in the summer, take a pair of shorts. Although Shanghai is the consumer Mecca of the modern world, tall, fat men are not well catered for despite thousands of clothing stores.

It is the only restriction. The inner city touts are persistent and their offers escalate quickly: from a cheap watch to a good time in a single breath.

Shanghai, where I've now become resigned to wearing heavy Auckland apparel in the clammy heat, is providing a glimpse into Auckland's future. A quarter of our city is Asian and this percentage is rising. Add to this Len Brown's drive towards higher urban density and the future becomes clear.

The 39,000 proposed houses is a distraction, as is Maurice Williamson. The man running the city is Comrade Brown. His Unitary Plan is moving with the demographic tide.

Asians do not migrate to New Zealand to return to apartment living but it is what many are accustomed to and the vibrancy and community of an urban Asian city has its appeal.

Importantly, the skills and capital needed to develop these inner-city complexes and associated infrastructure already exist in cities like Shanghai. The commercial opportunities are obvious.

Personally, I am not happy about how the future is looking. Like many fat, white men in the city, I do not like the Unitary Plan. I did not vote for Brown last time and will not do so later this year; but he is the mayor, he has a mandate, and is articulating a vision for what the city could look like and a plan for getting there.

Auckland's rapid growth comes from the younger and more fecund Asian and Pacific communities. Unless we are going to erect tents in Cornwall Park, people need somewhere to live.

Those of us who recall a disappearing Auckland, a cosy bicultural village where you did not need to be trendy to read Metro, grieve for the lost simplicity of those times. But we are yesterday's men. Pay us no attention and get the cranes busy. So long as the clothes stores contain larger sizes, we will cope.

- Herald on Sunday

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