Auckland has less than two years to build facilities for the America's Cup defence, it emerged today.
Auckland councillors heard the city needs to have facilities built by mid-2019 when the first challenger syndicates arrive in Auckland for the 2021 defence.
Urgent work is underway to consider the options for basing the syndicates on the Auckland waterfront, which include a 60m to 80m Halsey Wharf extension north of the Viaduct Harbour, an extension to Westhaven Marina and Captain Cook Wharf.
There is a lot to pull together
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Panuku Waterfront chief operating officer David Rankin said there is not much time considering the complexity of the issues and involvement of different parties, including Auckland Council and central government.
"There is a lot to pull together," he said.
Mayor Phil Goff said the decision to hold the defence of the cup had still not been made by Team New Zealand and would only be made if there was a suitable place for the syndicate bases.
He has instructed council chief executive Stephen Town to work with council bodies to look at all the options and come back to councillors with what works and achieves a legacy for Auckland.
"I'm not interested in funding the race. I am interested in an infrastructure legacy for Auckland in the same way the Viaduct Basin was (for the first America's Cup defence in 2000)," Goff said.
Rankin said officials were meeting today to apply criteria to the list of options, saying recommendations are due to be presented to councillors by the end of this month.
The urgency surrounding a site for the America's Cup syndicates, which requires 30,000sq m of space, was disclosed at council's planning committee today.
It came when councillors were considering the latest plan for the city's waterfront that includes reclaiming part of the Ferry Basin for more public space and making the downtown area more pedestrian-friendly.
There was a push by the Waitemata Local Board, City Centre Integration Group and some councillors to exclude the Halsey Wharf extension option, which has been on the radar since 2012 as an option for superyachts in the long term.
But Goff and a majority of councillors voted to keep Halsey Wharf on the table, with the mayor saying Town's job would be near-impossible if options were ruled out before looking at the evidence.
"He has got to come back and give us evidence-based advice and then we have got to make a decision," Goff said.
Councillors voted to include the latest plans for the waterfront and central city into the new 10-year budget where it will be "tested and interrogated" against other spending needs.
Goff has said the plan will have to compete with transport, housing and town centre upgrades for scarce funds during the budget process.
The plan bears similarities to a central wharves strategy in 2015 that came to a halt when Aucklanders went to war with council and Ports of Auckland over further reclamation of Waitemata Harbour for port use.
Removing imported cars off the port-owned Captain Cook Wharf and extend it at a cost of $50 million to $100m as the main cruise-ship terminal.
Turning most of Victoria St into a park between Albert and Victoria Parks and a new bus terminal on Wellesley St near the two universities.
Removing buses from the Britomart precinct and creating bus stops at the eastern end of Quay St as far as a roundabout near Commerce St. Quay St will be reduced to two lanes for general traffic and drivers will be encouraged to use Customs St.
A 20m reclamation at the Ferry Basin to create more open space as part of a compensation package for the sale of QEII Square to Precinct Properties for its commercial tower and shopping mall on the site of the old Downtown Shopping Centre.
Replacing the eight ferry berths with 12 to 15 berths along the western side of Queens Wharf.
Repairing the seawall along the waterfront at a cost of about $40m.
Removing about 40 carparks on the eastern viaduct by early next year.
Replacing the pedestrian lifting bridge from the Viaduct Harbour with a new $20m to $30m bridge.
Reconfiguring the 4.5ha park at the end of Wynyard Wharf to include parkland down the eastern side and freeing up land near the point on the western side for apartments.