When the horn sounds for the America's Cup in 2021, the Auckland waterfront will be sporting a new, jazzed-up look.
Like the move from catamarans of the last two Cups to 75-foot foiling monohulls, Aucklanders will notice a big difference along the waterfront from Britomart to Wynyard Quarter.
The Cup village will be dressed up around Hobson Wharf, the Viaduct Events Centre - the home to Team New Zealand - and on Wynyard Point, where there will be a pit row of challenging teams. More than 80 superyachts will be moored up.
It will be the most inclusive America's Cup event ever, says Team New Zealand, with a large area set aside at its own base for the public, and sites for fans to be part of the action on and off the water.
Between them, Auckland Council and the Government are spending $212 million on construction and running costs for the Cup - $114m from taxpayers and $98.5m from ratepayers.
On top of this, the council is pouring $55m of new money and bringing forward $53m of expenditure on a raft of projects to spruce up the waterfront for the Cup and Apec conference in 2021.
By the time the Cup and Apec conference rolls around, Auckland urban design champion Ludo Campbell-Reid says the city will have found its mojo. Aucklanders will feel prouder, more confident and more in love with the city.
"A city-centre heart will be beating and a sense of what is possible and what is at stake will be crystal clear," says the Englishman with a hyped-up enthusiasm for his new homeland.
By 2021, Campbell-Reid says, the city's residential population will have reached 70,000, Wynyard Quarter will have a community of 5000 residents, Queen Elizabeth Square outside Britomart will have been returned to the city, the ferry terminal will be reconfigured and Quay St will be more of a walking promenade than a carriageway for cars.
Excitement levels are rising as fast as the steel girders on the Commercial Bay project on the old Downtown shopping centre site at the bottom of Queen St.
Scott Pritchard, chief executive of Precinct Properties, developer of the 39-level office tower and 120 shops, bars and restaurants, says it will be a retail centre "as good as you'll find anywhere in the world".
Swedish clothing chain H&M is opening its flagship New Zealand store in Commercial Bay later this year. There will be a large food hall offering $5 meals or dumplings or noodles alongside offerings from celebrity chefs.
"We're expecting about 10 million people a year to make their way through Commercial Bay retail after it is completed," Pritchard told the Herald this month.
Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck describes Commercial Bay with its laneways and 10,000 or so office workers as a "key nexus", joining the waterfront, Britomart and Queen St.
It will be part of a more 24/7 city that will include longer shopping hours and night-time events, says Beck, who concurs with Campbell-Reid that Māori design is becoming an integral part of the public realm and Auckland's own identity.
Mayor Phil Goff says the America's Cup will bring vibrancy and economic benefits to Auckland and a chance to showcase the city and harbour, cutting-edge technology and the sporting skills of New Zealanders.
"The America's Cup village will be at the heart of the event with entertainment and attractions for fans. Further afield, our transformative plans for the city centre and waterfront will create a more pedestrian-friendly city centre with well-connected public transport and attractive public spaces," Goff said.
One project that will not be complete for 2021 is the $3.4 billion City Rail Link, although the first stage from Britomart and under Commercial Bay and up Albert St to Wyndham St will be finished and landscaped. The CRL is not due to open until 2023/2024.
It is unclear how far along the track Labour's $6 billion plan for modern trams will be. The project will involve disruptive works in the central city digging up Wynyard Quarter, Fanshawe St and Queen St.
The downtown shopping centre and 39-level office tower will feature:
• Laneway open 24 hours a day through to lower Albert St.
• H&M flagship store.
• Stalls offering $5 noodle meals alongside offerings from celebrity chefs.
• Branch of New York restaurant Saxon + Parole.
Lower Queen St
Will be turned into a pedestrian square outside the Britomart transport centre and the new Commercial Bay shopping centre.