Auckland's Albert St has become construction central as hotels, the railway tunnels and office blocks are built there.
In the third of the Herald's Talk a Walk series, we start at Lower Albert St at the Quay St intersection and look at Commercial Bay, the 39-level $800 million-plus office, retail and dining precinct.
Fletcher Construction is working here and the new PwC Tower is rising on what was the old Downtown Shopping centre site. Restaurants and shops will open here later next year and early 2020 in the project by Precinct Properties where structural steel framing is being used, said to be the first time in such a big high-rise in Auckland.
Other Take a Walk strolls have been around the $700m-plus NZ International Convention Centre and the shut St James historic theatre building, stalled when plans for a high-rise apartment block next door were axed.
Heritage remains on the Albert St/Customs St corner with the curvy slender white West Plaza which won the NZ Institute of Architects' enduring architecture award, and across on the other corner is the former Customhouse, now the DFS Galleria, a Category 1 building by architect Thomas Mahoney in the French Renaissance style.
Further up the street, a collection of old buildings includes the 107-year-old Yates, the former NZ headquarters of the seed business. Now, plans are to keep only its façade and perhaps build a hotel.
The Stamford Plaza Auckland hotel has the luxury multi-million dollar Stamford Residences apartments above.
Read more: A sad walk around the St James
Next, we move on to the construction works for the $3.4b City Rail Link: the video shows the cut and cover part, with trench excavation, before we get further up Albert St and hit the slight rise, when underground tunnelling will start, running all the way to Mt Eden. These tunnels run from Britomart and the CPO, beneath Commercial Bay, up Albert St
Stamford Residences is widely regarded as Auckland's best apartment living, where John Banks' place was for sale last year for $5.25m. Fletcher also build those places above the hotel. Owners were worried about the CRL tunnel so they took court action to ensure there was no damage to their expensive apartments.
And that's not the end to all the hotels – two big new ones are coming here soon.
At the Mansons' site, new offices will be built and then a $200m 37-level new hotel development is planned for the Albert St/Wyndham St corner. New Zealand's first Even Hotel and a new Holiday Inn Express are to be built here. For 153 years, the New Zealand Herald was on this block, leaving this site three years ago.
Opposite, on the old Macdonald Halligan Motors site, near the Shakespeare Hotel, another huge hotel is planned, this time a $250m 41-level Indigo Hotel. That is to have 225 rooms and the heritage façade is to be kept.
Albert St was once a thoroughfare where little happened in terms of new development. It's now getting a big awakening, the centre of construction sites for towers, railway lines and new hotels.