A third downtown Auckland supermarket is being planned to cater for around 30,000 workers within a half-kilometre radius of the waterfront.
The $1.5b NZX-listed landlord Precinct Properties NZ is negotiating to get the new store in one of two office towers on Lower Albert St, a block from the busy Britomart transport terminal.
Scott Pritchard, Precinct chief executive, said this week the business was "talking to all the usuals", indicating discussions were being held with Australian-owned Countdown and locally owned Foodstuffs, although he said he could not be specific about who the business was talking to.
The new supermarket would be the third in the CBD, adding to offerings from New World Metro is in the basement of 125 Queen St at the Shortland St intersection and Countdown on Victoria St.
Countdown Quay St and New World Victoria Park are on the fringes of the CBD.
Pritchard said the new supermarket would either be in his company's AMP Centre at the Customs St West/Lower Albert St intersection, or in the PwC Tower on the Quay St/Lower Albert St corner.
"We think it's a good idea. There's 30,000 workers within a 500m walk. There will be around 12,000 workers in our five office buildings," he said referring to Zurich House, the AMP Centre, HSBC, PwC and the new Commercial Bay now being built.
Getting enough floor area for the supermarket was a challenge, he said, and it was not yet decided if it would be a small full-format layout or a smaller metro-style of store.
"We don't have much space and it's too early to say what type it will be," he said.
Pritchard expects the supermarket to open by 2019: "Ideally we would open something at the same time as the retail in Commercial Bay," he said referring to 120 new shops, food outlets and restaurants now rising on the city block opposite the AMP Centre and PwC Tower.
John Polkinghorne, an associate director of specialist retail consultants RCG, welcomed the supermarket plans
"I think it's great news and is a sign of the huge growth in the area. There are more than 40,000 people living in the Auckland city centre and it'll overtake Invercargill in the next few years in terms of population size. Plus, about 100,000 people work in the city centre, more than in the whole of Hamilton city, to say nothing of the tourism," he said.
"It's extremely positive, and it will go very well indeed. This would be the third supermarket for the city centre and I expect there will be more to come."
Neither Countdown nor Foodstuffs would comment on the plans or whether they were involved in discussions.