Bledisloe Lane between Aotea Square and Wellesley St is being upgraded.
Ludo Campbell-Reid of Auckland Council said the popular thoroughfare for inner-city workers, theatre-goers and tourists has often been criticised for its dark recesses and gloomy, dated appearance.
So the changes will transform it into a brighter, safer connection.
New paving, a new glass canopy and facade to Bledisloe House at ground level and an upgraded pocket park on Wellesley St is planned.
The existing canopy which limits natural light will be removed in stages in work due to finish in September and the whole job will be completed this year.
But the changes were debated and questions have been raised about how much shelter would be provided.
However, Campbell-Reid said more people would be drawn to the area once the makeover was finished.
"Currently the lane is well used, but its poor design quality does not encourage pedestrians to linger and enjoy the space," he said.
"Our plans to redevelop the lane, introduce a new service centre and redesign the Wellesley St pocket park will transform the pedestrian experience." Anne Gibson