Australian and Singaporeans will super-size yet another Auckland shopping centre, announcing a plan to spend a whopping $500 million at the North Shore's Westfield Albany.
After Thursday's David Jones opening in Newmarket and a $790m expansion there, Peter Allen, chief executive of landlord Scentre Group which manages A$54.6b of Australasian assets, announced plans for the existing centre which already gets millions of shopper visits annually.
Online shopping and the digital challenge to malls and their bricks and mortar doesn't dent Scentre's plans.
"It will be around $500m and we're looking at trying to commence late 2020 or early 2021," said Allen, here from Sydney for Newmarket celebrations.
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Albany could get two 15-level office towers and an extra 3ha to 4ha of indoor floor space, as well as a new north-facing multi-restaurant dining precinct, like Newmarket's new Rooftop on Broadway.
Scentre jointly owns five Westfield-branded malls with GIC, the Singapore Government's investment fund: Albany, St Lukes, Newmarket, Manukau and in Christchurch, Riccarton.
Allen said many new retailers would open at Albany, dozens of extra shops be developed and the dining precinct would face the lake to the north of the mall, although Albany would have less of a fashion focus than Newmarket.
But what happened to Scentre's long-time plans to upgrade, extend and expand its Westfield St Lukes?
"Newmarket," Allen said, indicating that was such a big project and its pull would be so strong that it would draw shoppers from throughout Auckland and further afield.
Greg Miles, Scentre chief operating officer, said: "St Lukes will become more of a town centre than a lifestyle centre."
Glenda Fryer, who for 18 years represented Mt Albert and Mt Eden as a councillor and local board member, said of St Lukes shelving: "C'est la vie. There's been a cloud hanging over some houses on Aroha Ave which Westfield bought. The developers got more height and we thought when the Unitary Plan came in, they'd go ahead. People breathing a sigh of relief will be town centres in Mt Albert, Kingsland, Sandringham, Balmoral and Point Chevalier because they have a more certain future, the longer St Lukes' is put off."
Fryer estimated she had been working on St Lukes' expansion since 1998 when she was Albert-Eden Community Board chair and a resource management act commissioner "so I was absolutely on top of all the discussions planners were having with the owners of the mall. It's a surprise it's not going ahead, especially to the community, although a mixed blessing. I did wonder how St Lukes would fit into Scentre's plans. Newmarket will take up a lot of demand."
Allen said apartments might be built adjacent to St Lukes, in residential areas with traditional houses on land which Scentre bought some years ago.
"Newmarket will become more of a magnet nationally and for international visitors. St Lukes will become much more important to the community," Miles said.
But Allen said St Lukes redevelopment "would not be for another five years". Both said its configuration was too narrow or shallow: Newmarket shops are 17m to 18m deep whereas the older-style St Lukes' shops were only about 10m deep, they said.
Shops would eventually be pushed out into the existing St Lukes carpark and new car parking created, they said.