A commercial property investor wants Auckland's Britomart Transport Centre foundations strengthened so that hub can be expanded and a big new $100 million office block can rise behind the historic Central Post Office.
Britomart developer Cooper and Company wants the works to be carried out during Auckland Transport's extensive City Rail Link reinforcing works under the CPO, due to start soon.
A new Transport Centre concourse hall could then be built, possibly linked to the existing ex-Central Post Office which now houses the train station hub, the statement said. This would create more public space and increase Britomart's capacity and operating efficiency.
The investment and development business, owned by Peter Cooper and run by Matthew Cockram, has its eye on the land between the CPO and Takutai Square, an undeveloped slice behind Britomart's glass box to the east.
Cockram said it was time to rethink use of the council-owned land between Commerce, Galway and Tyler streets.
"It's a bit shabby, the way it presents, the way that site interacts with the railway station and carparking. It's unsafe. It's got beyond its useful life. It was fine when it was built 11 or 12 years ago, but there's a lot more people moving around," Cockram said of the use of the approximately 3600sq m block of council-owned land.
Cockram said a 10-level 12,000sq m office block was planned for the site and that block might be worth about $100 million once it was completed.
Other new commercial developments are also planned there.
Chris Meale, City Rail Link project director, said part of the site had already been strengthened when Britomart was built but he could give no price estimate for the strengthening work. Nor had a decision been taken about who would develop the land behind the CPO.
"AT has undertaken some preliminary assessment itself. We're assessing the potential for the above-ground development. We have not gone anywhere near getting into a commercial relationship for the site with anyone. We're interested in Cooper's proposal," Meale said.
But nothing had been agreed to.
"It's very early days. You're reflecting on a presentation Coopers made to the council last week. If there was to be a commercial transaction, what has to be looked at is that you need to invest in the below-ground structure to allow something to go on top. That would be part of a commercial transaction. We need to look at the cost and economic return and whether that's a sensible investment with Coopers or anyone else," Meale said.
Cooper and Company statement
ENHANCEMENTS PROPOSED TO BRITOMART PRECINCT
A number of possible changes to the linkages between the Britomart precinct, the CPO Building and the Britomart Transport Centre are being proposed by Cooper and Company, which has been working on the redevelopment of the Britomart Precinct in collaboration with Council for the past ten years.
Among the suggested changes are:
• Strengthening foundation work so as to enable possible construction of a new commercial building to the east of the CPO building utilising the air space above the Transport Centre.
• Creating a large new concourse hall for the Transport Centre, possibly linking with the CPO building.
• Opening up the western face of the CPO building.
• Creating more public spaces.
• Increasing the capacity and operating efficiency of the Transport Centre and reinforcing its position as Auckland's "Grand Central Station".
Cooper and Company says the opportunity for a design re-think arose out of master planning and design work for their development sites in the western part of the Britomart precinct and the extensive reinforcing work required for the City Rail Link (CRL) tunnelling under the CPO building.
The company says strengthening the planned foundations would make it possible for a new building to utilise the air space above the Transport Centre. This would create additional value for the city, as well as being a dramatic and elegant use of the opportunity created by Auckland Transport's major works in the area.
The proposed new building, which Cooper and Company is interested in constructing, would 'float' above the Transport Centre behind the CPO Building with the underside of the new building three to four levels up in the air.
The new concepts were shown to a workshop of Auckland Councillors last week and will be discussed with Auckland Transport.
Detailed examination of the new concepts by the various parties, including physical and financial feasibility and assessment of the outcomes is required. Decisions are needed before reinforcing and tunnelling under the CPO building - the first stage of the CRL- scheduled to commence next year.
Auckland Council and Cooper and Company are more than two-thirds through a successful multi year agreement to transform the run-down Britomart precinct, overseen by a joint advisory board, which is being hailed as a model for inner-city regeneration.
An economic impact study conducted last year concluded that the completed redevelopment of the Britomart precinct to date has created more than 9,000 new jobs and an overall positive economic impact on the city of more than $1.3 billion every year.