Anne Gibson

Anne Gibson is the Property editor of the NZ Herald

Waterfront Auckland buzzing amid Cup optimism

Aucklanders' attention has turned towards the waterfront, with the Cup score at an encouraging 7-1. Photo / Richard Robinson
Aucklanders' attention has turned towards the waterfront, with the Cup score at an encouraging 7-1. Photo / Richard Robinson

The prospects for Auckland redeveloping more of its formerly industrial waterfront and the fortunes of many big planned new city projects are being seen as enhanced as Emirates Team New Zealand battle for the America's Cup.

John Coop, a principal and shareholder in architects Warren and Mahoney, said the waterfront's outlook was already strong, with so much land and such big opportunities to bring Aucklanders closer to the water's edge.

Aucklanders' attention has turned towards the waterfront, with the Cup score at an encouraging 7-1.

Coop, a member of the Property Council of NZ's Auckland branch committee and communications committee, listed a group of large planned new city projects worth well over $1 billion, including Fonterra's planned new headquarters on a block fronting Fanshawe St, the Central Rail Link and Precinct Properties NZ's plans.

The combination looked powerful for the city's future, he said.

"These things all together make for a fantastic package and start making Auckland look like a world-class city like San Francisco, Sydney or Hong Kong. The timing is superb because the economy is starting to move again. There's a fresh confidence in Auckland and particularly around the importance of the waterfront as a public place," Coop said.

But Shamubeel Eaqub, NZIER principal economist, warned against talking up the situation and predictions of a $500 million gain.

"With the America's Cup, there will be a lot more economic hype than reality," he said.

"There will definitely be construction work done, if it comes to New Zealand. But beyond that, I am not sure how much of it will be new as opposed to stuff that would have been done anyway that will now be fast tracked. The economic benefit numbers being touted by some economists I see is half a billion dollars. Based on the performance of these types, its probably going to be a tenth of that. Some people make our profession look even more dismal than it needs to be."

Waterfront Auckland has already earmarked six sites from Westhaven Marina across to Captain Cook Wharf near the foot of Queen St, where the sailing syndicates could be based.

Miles Brown, Property Council Auckland branch president, predicted potential growth in the hotel and apartment sectors.

"There is, I believe, a shortage of quality hotels in Auckland and increasing visitors and the population might spur additional residential development and it could be the impetus for apartments on the waterfront," Brown said.

Convention centre completion timing could be perfect.

"Rugby World Cup resulted in a lot of projects being fast-tracked," he said, citing Wynyard Quarter's transformation and further projects there.

"America's Cup racing reinforces Waterfront Auckland's plans."

David McConnell, Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development chairman and a Hawkins Group director, said the combination of all the big new projects, along with a significantly more stimulated visitor economy, would be a catalyst for accelerating Auckland's economy.

- NZ Herald

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