'Concrete jungle' could be transformed into open plaza with views of harbour.
The lower Hobson St flyover should be removed to create a plaza near the Tepid Baths and keep motorists away from the waterfront, say city planners.
The draft city centre and waterfront masterplans both advocate demolishing the concrete flyover, which takes motorists from Quay St on the waterfront on to Hobson St or Fanshawe St.
Planners envisage a plaza in front of the 100-year-old Tepid Baths, which are undergoing a $15.8 million redevelopment. Several laneways in the area would be another attraction.
The masterplans also call for the council-owned Downtown carpark, with 1900 spaces, to become a commercial office tower with shops, cafes and restaurants at street level and some carparking.
Currently, the flyover and carpark building blight the area, obscure views to the city from the waterfront and are a barrier to pedestrians, say the planning documents.
The suggestion to demolish the flyover is tied to plans to limit traffic on the stretch of Quay St between lower Hobson St and Britomart Place to create more space for people where the city meets the harbour.
Only local traffic, service vehicles and cruise-ship related activity would be allowed on this stretch of Quay St.
But it would be open to trams or light rail, which could run from Wynyard Quarter to Britomart within three years and eventually up Queen St and along the waterfront to St Heliers.
Over time, as the port consolidates to the east of Quay St, the wharf areas on the harbour side of the heritage-listed Red Fence will become part of a waterfront boulevard.
Changes to Quay St will result in private and public transport being diverted to Customs St.
Waitemata Local Board chairman Shale Chambers said removing the flyover and opening up the Tepid Baths would greatly enhance the look and feel of the whole area.
And a makeover of the "concrete jungle" Downtown carpark would give a chance to better use the views of the waterfront, he said.
Mr Chambers said removing the flyover would also help with plans to turn Hobson and Nelson Sts into two-way, tree-lined boulevards, which the local board had been advocating.
Heart of the City chief executive Alex Swney said it would be wonderful to open up lower Hobson St and reclaim some of the prime real estate chewed up by the tarmac builders of a couple of generations ago.
"It would be in keeping with the thrust of getting more people places in the city," he said.
The draft waterfront plan has put a 10-year timeframe on removing the Hobson St flyover and the carpark redevelopment.
It would be subject to a feasibility study, with input from Auckland Council, Auckland Transport, Waterfront Auckland and the owners of the Copthorne Hotel on Quay St.