The $1 billion Commercial Bay tower set to open next year as the Auckland CBD's largest shopping complex has now leased 95 per cent of its retail stores, as US clothing brands Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger jump on board.
Precinct Properties chief executive Scott Pritchard says the company "literally only have a handful of stores to lease" among the total 120 shop fronts, before the March 2020 opening date.
Flagship New Zealand stores for Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, Scotch & Soda, R. M. Williams, Asics and Rip Curl will be added to the bottom two retail levels of the 39-storey tower at the downtown end of Queen St.
This jump from around 70 per cent of retail stores leased marks one of the final steps in the development, which has pushed back its original scheduled opening date, before Christmas 2019, several times.
"I think being 95 per cent leased and six months ahead of opening is indicative of the strength of demand," Pritchard said.
"Auckland's never had a concentrated area where you can put a lot of retail into it, it's quite unique.
"So it's a big jump both in terms of how much space is gone, and also just who's coming in. The mix that we've been targeting has always been mid to upper fashion."
Precinct Properties development manager Michael Sweetman said the retail announcements have consolidated the company's goal for Commercial Bay to cater to a fashion market unique in New Zealand.
"Part of our aspiration was to target one-off and unique retail offerings. We want to differentiate this offer to anything else you find in Auckland. So that's our perspective," said Sweetman.
"From those retailers coming into New Zealand, they have identified Auckland as the opportunity and they focus in on the CBD.
"What we're seeing globally is that retailers are making brand positioning statements with their real estate. You'll see it in Melbourne, you'll see it in Sydney. When they put the flag down, it's often first in one of those major cities."
US clothing brands Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, and Dutch fashion outlet Scotch & Soda will be opening their first stand-alone Kiwi stores in Commercial Bay.
In addition to the six big flagship stores announced, other new retail stores include: twenty-seven names, Storm, Ice Breaker, Kookai, The Gentry, Skintopia, Lovely by Skin Institute, The Art of Nails, Harker Herbals and Shampoo 'n' Things.
Retailers previously locked in for Commercial Bay include Sandro & Maje, Kate Spade, Furla, Federation, Superette, Rodd & Gunn, Hershel Supply Co, 3 Wise Men, Barkers, Scarpa, Wittner Shoes and new footwear concept Solect.
Swedish retailer H&M opened there last year.
Dior Perfumes and Beauty is also opening its first $1 million New Zealand boutique in the complex.
Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck said Commercial Bay's location was key to the development of downtown Auckland, with 10,000 workers within two city blocks.
"There's a lot of concurrent development and visible signs of development [in downtown Auckland] and the transformation has been happening over the last decade," Beck said.
"But Commercial Bay is a significant milestone and I think it's coming as we see a major change in how people want to enjoy cities and a massive change in how many people are living in Auckland.
"Thirty years ago there were about 1300 people living in this concentrated area. There's now 57,000 and that's set to double in the next decade. For these people, the city's their home and they're looking for different things."
In addition to two levels of retail stores, Commercial Bay's shopping complex will have a third level of restaurants, bars and a food court called Harbour Eats.
The 39-level, 39,000sq m Warren & Mahoney-designed office tower has 3.9ha of indoor floor space, 80 per cent leased to some of the country's top lawyers - Chapman Tripp, MinterEllisonRuddWatts and DLA Piper - as well as PwC and Regus.
A cut-through shopping laneway is 95m long and 6m wide, and will allow direct access from lower Albert St to the new civic space in lower Queen St outside the former Central Post Office, now the Britomart.
Shops will line both sides, with a glass roof, but the pathway will be open at either end.
"This [laneway] remains open 24/7. It's fully weather protected," Pritchard said.
"The reason for that is we always wanted it to be very much part of the city fabric. So people visiting Auckland will hopefully just find themselves here."