Progress on the Ports of Auckland's new waterfront car parking building has sparked anger from a real estate agent who says the higher the building goes, the more it blocks the city seaside.
Graham Wall, the agent who sold New Zealand's most expensive house for $39 million, said construction of the new Bledisloe Wharf block was "an outrage".
Now that the first three levels were up, the block's impact on the city's seafront had become even clearer, he said, particularly from Quay St.
"They paved paradise and put up a parking block," Wall said, citing a line from a Joni Mitchell song Big Yellow Taxi.
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But the port says the new building is needed for the hundreds of thousands of vehicles being handled annually and a spokesman expressed satisfaction with the building's fast-changing form.
"I'm pleased to report that construction is going very well. We are on track to complete in August 2020 as planned," said port communications head Matt Ball.
Hawkins is building the five-level car block at 1-19 Quay St, directly opposite another waterfront car parking building owned by the Britomart's Cooper & Co beside the Countdown supermarket. Three levels are up and work has begun on level four, Ball said.
The block will be 16.3m high, according to port's application to Auckland Council from planners Bentley & Co, store 1600 to 1700 vehicles and is on a site 50m from Quay St.
Bentley cited an NZIER report which said Auckland was the entry port for more than two-thirds of New Zealand's vehicle imports: 76 per cent of light vehicles and 68 per cent of heavy vehicles.
Annual light vehicle imports were worth $4.8 billion in 2016 and comprised about 9 per cent of New Zealand's total imports, the application said. Nearly 400,000 vehicles a year arrive at the port.
The new car handling facility would increase the Bledisloe terminal's ability to accommodate growth in imported vehicles and would have a positive economic benefit, Bentley said.
Previously, mayor Phil Goff said that under the Port Companies Act, the council was "expressly forbidden from interfering with the commercial decision-making of the port". Even though it owns both the land and the port company, the council can ask questions but it can't direct.
But in his mayoral election campaign last month, he said he wanted to change the way imported cars were cleared off wharves to stop the waterfront looking like "giant parking lots". He even asked the port to look at using barges.
Cars could be stored and processed elsewhere rather than on "valuable city centre port land", Goff said last month.
A company hoping to win the contract to shift cars from the wharves says it is building a five-storey car storage facility with a giant solar-panelled roof.
And the transport company wants to use the electricity generated to power barges that will ferry the cars away from Auckland ports.
PTS Group has submitted a proposal to the council and the port to move 230,000 cars annually.
Auckland mayoral candidate John Tamihere has said he would sell the port if elected next month, but retain its land for future re-development.
NZ First leader Winston Peters wants to shift the port north by 2027 but said in 2017 he wanted all cars gone by this year. That would open 77ha of prime waterfront land for public use and the development of a new cruise ship terminal, he said.