$1b Auckland Uni expansion on the books

Auckland Uni is country's largest real estate developer, with 10-year plan well underway.

An architect's impression of a redeveloped and expanded Auckland University Science Centre.
An architect's impression of a redeveloped and expanded Auckland University Science Centre.

Auckland University has become New Zealand's largest real estate developer, with a $1 billion 10-year order book already well under way.

A spokesperson said about half that money was already either spent or committed to projects, including its expansion into Newmarket.

"The university has about half a billion dollars of construction already approved over the next five years and that will have to be completed before we look to fund further significant projects at Newmarket," she said of the ex-Lion Breweries site where engineering post-graduate students will move to towards the end of next year.

The $1 billion will be spent on buildings on the main central city site and Newmarket and is coming from borrowing, fees and university income. The university plans to significantly increase its external research income in the next few years.

"The university generates its external research income from externally funded domestic and international research grants and contracts," the spokesperson said.

"In New Zealand, public good research contracts include those from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Health Research Council and the Royal Society of New Zealand.

"For example, the Health Research Council is the principal government agency responsible for funding health research in New Zealand. The university was successful in the council's 2013 funding round, receiving a total of $31.2 million, or just over 50 per cent of the grant funding announced."

External research income was also generated from commercial research contracts through the university's commercial research and knowledge transfer company, Auckland UniServices, the spokesperson said.

"Over the last 10 years, through UniServices, the university has filed over 140 patents - as many as all the other New Zealand universities combined, and half as many as all the NZ Crown Research Institutes combined.

The university has 2500 active research contracts at any one time.

Peter Fehl, Auckland University property services director, said the precise plans for vacant land on the Newmarket site were not available.

"There is no planning for this yet. Please understand that we are concentrating on the research buildings for the moment and planning for the complete site will take 30-plus years," he said.

Demolition on the $200 million redevelopment of the university's existing science building begins in November, Fehl said, ready for a new tower to be added to the Wellesley St-Symonds St corner block.

Ashley Church, Newmarket Business Association chief executive, said the university's move would revitalise the northeastern end of the area and bring forward badly needed infrastructural and traffic improvements.

Church said: "It will provide a ready-made catchment of consumers for Newmarket products and services, complement the pending extension of Westfield 277 at the southwestern end of Newmarket and provide a logical demarcation between the retail district and an education quarter and provide other, non-core, facilities such as good quality accommodation and lecture/conference amenities."

Costs of development

$1b spendup, Auckland University:

* $200m Science Building redevelopment/expansion begins in November.
* $240m Grafton Campus upgrade, completed in 2011.
* $67m purchase of Newmarket site.
* $86m new building at Newmarket campus.
* $160m Engineering expansion, City Campus, 2 years away.

- NZ Herald

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