Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Wharf plan 'once in a lifetime' opportunity

Waterfront Auckland has been urged to take on a project to revitalise Queens Wharf. Photo / Dean Purcell
Waterfront Auckland has been urged to take on a project to revitalise Queens Wharf. Photo / Dean Purcell

Waterfront Auckland has been asked to "take the lead" to build two large buildings on Queens Wharf in exchange for upgrading the downtown ferry terminal.

The Ferry Project Group this morning made a presentation to the Waterfront Auckland board on its idea for the two buildings, which would contain public space at ground level with two floors of commercial space.

The frontman for the group, businessman Sir Noel Robinson, said it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to do something a lot better with the ferry area.

"Here's an idea. Waterfront Auckland please take the lead and see if we can do something special for Auckland right now," he said.

The plan presented today is similar to a plan outlined in the Herald last month, except that the Ferry Project Group have abandoned plans for carparks in the two buildings.

Jasmax architect Tim Hooson said the opportunity would provide greater public access to the water's edge, activate the northern end of the wharf and facilitate the development of world class ferry infrastructure.

"I say with hand on heart...the fundamental ownership (of the wharf) does not change," Mr Hooson said.

He said the project would take the vitality and energy in the central business district and swell that on the bottom of the wharf. Images at the presentation showed the ground floor of the western building largely being used for ferry services and the ground floor of the eastern building as a market.

"This is not a finalised plan, but an illustration of what could be," said Mr Hooson, who has come up with the preliminary design.

Board member Adrienne Young-Cooper asked if any costings had been done for removing the current ferry terminal buildings on the wharf and building new ferry infrastructure. Mr Hooson said costings had not been done.

Two weeks ago council chief executive Stephen Town said the council had received a number of private development proposals for Queens Wharf and at this stage did not intend to pursue any of them.

Waterfront Auckland has developed its own "planned discussion with the community" on Queens Wharf, which has been diverted to the Central City Integration Group (CCIG), a new group set up to co-ordinate and focus activities on the waterfront and downtown Auckland.

Waterfront Auckland chief executive John Dalzell said the Ferry Project Group proposal would be discussed with council colleagues through the CCIG and was one part of a community-based discussion to come to a consensus on a plan for Queens Wharf.

He said the proposal had some areas of common ground with Waterfront Auckland's thinking, including the need for a better link between Shed 10 and Queen St on the eastern side of the wharf, and the bulk of the buildings being in scale with Shed 10.

Mr Dalzell said the proposal for a building on the western side of Queens Wharf did not conform with Waterfront Auckland's thinking to see the wharf and sea reconnected to Queen St by providing open space on that side of the wharf.

- NZ Herald

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