Developers of Auckland's tallest and most striking new office tower have told investors that plans are advancing well.

Scott Pritchard, chief executive of Precinct Properties which will build the 38-level, $550 million Downtown tower on the site of the existing mall at the foot of Queen St, told shareholders at the annual meeting in Auckland of progress on the scheme.

"We are really pleased to record several milestones at the Downtown shopping centre. We further advanced the design work and secured resource consent. We signed an agreement with Auckland Transport for work on the City Rail Link and for our development to proceed at the same time," Pritchard said.

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The train tunnels will be dug at the same time the tower's foundations are dug.
Pritchard also cited Precinct's controversial deal to buy public land so the building could spread out at ground level opposite the former Central Post Office.

"We conditionally acquired Queen Elizabeth Square and lodged plans for its rezoning," he said.

New Zealand's largest builder, Fletcher Construction has now been awarded the contract to build the waterfront tower between Quay St, Lower Albert St and Customs Street West.

"We completed the construction tendering process and have selected Fletcher Construction as our preferred contractor. Downtown remains the country's best development opportunity and one that I believe only comes along once in a generation," Pritchard told about 100 investors.

Downtown and Precinct's plans for the Wynyard Quarter towards Westhaven showed the city's direction, he said.

"Both this development and Wynyard are targeting the increasing interest in waterfront space as the city shifts to a new east-west axis along its shoreline. And for Precinct, of course, the opportunity is especially good as we own the surrounding buildings," he said referring to Precinct's 1 Queen St, PwC Tower and AMP block on the Albert St/Customs St corner.

"This gives us a unique contiguous footprint and unique opportunities to create value. Pre-leasing for the office tower remains on track to receive around 50 per cent commitment prior to proceeding with the development," Pritchard said.

Construction work on the huge tower, with the mall on the lower levels, would begin around the middle of next year, he said