Auckland's biggest 120-shop inner-city mall, a bold new north-facing indoor-outdoor entertainment dining/bar precinct, the country's tallest new office tower, a new network of subterranean train tunnels and a five-star hotel - all are rising and much is nearly finished on the waterfront.
Commercial Bay is the grand $1 billion scheme to capitalise on the city's seaside location by developing a soaring new 39-level office tower with a considerable range of new amenities below and it has changed the city's skyline.
In the first vote of confidence, Swedish retailer H&M opened there last year but soon thousands of people will be working, shopping, dining, drinking and meeting each other on that site, transforming the shape of Auckland and adding a vibrant buzz to the downtown CBD.
Precinct chief executive Scott Pritchard says they're expecting about 10m people to make their way through Commercial Bay shops annually, making that centre one of New Zealand's most popular.
RETAIL CENTRE - 120 new shops
The 18,000sq m shopping centre replaces the old Downtown which traded there for many decades.
With the catch cry 'here the city began', Precinct is promising 120 shops and big-name retailers.
On March 15, Precinct announced a $1m Dior Perfumes and Beauty shop, new Mecca, L'Occitane, fashon labels Sandro & Maje making its New Zealand debut, Kate Spade opening its second New Zealand store and luxury hand bag brand Furla. Hugo Boss will shift from Queen St and local brands Federation, 3 Wise Men and Bakers will open shops along with a number of footwear brands including Wittner.
Sephora is widely tipped, along with Uniqlo but could the country's first Aldi German discount supermarket operator arrive as well, alongside Muji, perhaps this country's first Apple store?
Already, Spark has leased 782sq m for a prominent new Auckland flagship or destination store.
The shops are spread across three levels and the architects say they have rejected glass sliding doors and air-con, but instead arranged these all around an open-air laneway and an atrium to provide more grandeur.
Global brand Superette, Italy's Furla, Canadian favourite Herschel Supply Co and popular domestically well-known brand Rodd & Gunn will trade here. Precinct said this month 85 per cent of the retail was leased.
The 39-level 39,000sq m Warren & Mahoney-designed office tower has 3.9ha of indoor floor space, 80 per cent eased to some of the country's top lawyers Chapman Tripp, MinterEllisonRuddWatts and DLA Piper along with PwC and Regus.
Naming rights have been sold to PwC which leases the neighbouring Precinct tower so that name will cross Lower Albert St, from the smaller white waterfront block to the tower.
Services like lifts and toilets are on the Customs St side of the tower, so offices have unhindered waterfront views.
Instead of those services going in the centre of the floor plates as in many other office towers, they've been hung on the southern side.
The architects say this will be an "unparalleled workspace experience, with open, flexible floorplates and dramatic views over the harbour and city. Glazed lifts will ascent from a double-height sky lobby, transforming the arrival at work from mundane to memorable."
NEW FIVE-STAR HOTEL
A $298m plan - Commercial Bay stage two - makes alterations and additions to One Queen St, now HSBC House. The new InterContinental Auckland will occupy the 11 top levels of the existing office building and yield 244 guest rooms and suites, a restaurant, meeting areas, health club and club lounge facilities. Construction work won't start here till early next year, with Precinct aiming to finish by 2022.
A cut-through shopping laneway is 95m long and 6m wide, allowing 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 open at either end.
Remember the old, dated Downtown foodhall on level one? What's built now is a far cry from that and it's called Harbour Eats, with sit-down capacity for about 700 people, a lofty 10m stud, natural greenery and foliage, different eating spaces and bar areas and some high-profile new names.
A roof-top terrace overlooks the Waitemata, above street level, open, north-facing. New York's Saxon + Parole is making its New Zealand debut, along with popular old-fashioned style eatery Burger Burger, Malaysian-inspired Hawker and Roll, Gochu by Ollie Simon and David Lee, New York's Mexican-influenced Ghost Donkey and 1970s-style Genuine Liquorette of Fitzrovia, London.
"Harbour Eats will offer a food destination unlike anywhere else in the world," says Precinct CEO Scott Pritchard. "AvroKO, masters of creating vibrant and exciting hospitality spaces, have designed a flexible place where you'll be able to enjoy anything from easy breakfasts, grab-and-go snacks, quick lunches, after work drinks or leisurely dinners."
You won't know much about this when you're inside Commercial Bay, but a legacy aspect of this project was Precinct allowing construction of rail tunnels beneath the tower.
Builder Fletcher Construction opened the ground beneath the old Downtown centre, to allow City Rail Link twin tunnels to be built. Access like that has been invaluable, giving the CRL project unhindered ability to run the tunnels from Britomart, under Commercial Bay, then swing them hard left up Albert St.
Not many this close to the sea but 278 have been built for the exclusive use of office workers, all above-ground in the tower's lower levels. The public might be able to get access to pay for them on the weekends, depending on Precinct's plans.
Commercial Bay ties together four existing landmark city towers, all owned by Precinct, playing the ultimate monopoly game: Zurich House, HSBC, the current PwC and the AMP Centre. When physically linked, as they all will be, about 10,000 office workers will be swarming across those four blocks and Precinct will have a 2ha $1.5b stronghold. All it needs now to complete the jigsaw is Auckland Council's Downtown Carpark and the M Social Auckland hotel.
The construction schedule is running about a year behind original plans.
The offices were due to open in July this year but are not now due to be done till just before Christmas. That could be pushed out further, depending on progress throughout the rest of the year. The shops were due to open last November, ready for Christmas 2018 but only one retailer is so far trading there: H&M.
Shops are now scheduled to open till September this year.
• Name: The wider foreshore area's moniker in the 1800s;
• What: 39-level offices, shops, train tunnels, mall, hotel, restaurants, bars;
• Where: Quay St/Lower Albert St/Customs St West/Lower Queen St;
• When: H&M opened last year, phased mall/office tower/hotel opening this year;
• Who: NZX-listed Precinct Properties owner/developer;
• Builder: Fletcher Construction;
• Architect: Warren & Mahoney;
• Value: $1 billion.
• Monday: City Rail Link
• Tuesday: International Convention Centre
• Wednesday: Newmarket
• Thursday: Auckland International Airport
• Today: Commercial Bay
• Saturday: America's Cup Village Development