Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says it's worth getting another cost estimate on one of the location options for the America's Cup – despite Auckland Council saying it will cost too much to move hazardous materials offsite.
Ardern has also allayed fears that the negotiations over what area to use will drag on too long and put timeframes at risk.
"Our request and desire is that we keep our options open while we are in the middle of negotiations," Ardern told Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB today.
"There has been a view by Council that the option we have been talking about down at Wynyard Point, which is around the tank farm, their view is that location would cost too much in terms of relocating some of the hazardous materials… we think that cost estimate needs to be looked at again.
"We both want the Cup to be held here. But we all have bottom lines. It is not a blank chequebook. And nor would taxpayers or ratepayers expect us to do that."
Panuku Development design and place director Rod Marler told councillors last week that "timing really is the critical issue", saying he could not stress how critical it is to lodge resource consent in January.
However, Economic Development Minister David Parker, who returned from a trade trip to Argentina yesterday, told the Herald that he expected the Government's analysis of the options to be ready in January or February.
The tight timeline comes on top of council's decision on Thursday to favour the Wynyard Basin option, which would include wharf extensions of 2.5ha into the Waitemata Harbour, and extensions to Halsey Wharf, Hobson Wharf and Wynyard Wharf. Team NZ also favours the basin option.
Parker remains unconvinced and has hired consultants last week to work with the council and look closer at the cost estimates of the basin as well as the second option of Wynyard Point.
The basin option carries a price tag of $128 million plus $18m to relocate tenants and landowners. Wynyard Pt, which is known as the "tank farm" because it houses hazardous materials in liquid storage tanks, is expected to cost $112m - but this estimate includes a $100m cost for a relocation that Parker says might be unnecessary.
Asked about the tight timeframe, Ardern told Newstalk ZB that there would be benefit in having a dual-consenting process.
"Because consenting is what is the issue here… yes, [Parker] has asked for some extra information. That information relates to either location, is my understanding."
This month a group of 50 Auckland architects and designers wrote an open letter to Ardern, Parker and Goff supporting the Wynyard Point option.
The group said choosing the Wynyard Point option would be a great opportunity to open up industrial waterfront land for further urban development in the future.
The Wynyard Point (variant) option would still involve a 74m extension to Hobson Wharf to accommodate one double base, but only a 15m extension of Halsey Wharf for two single bases, compared with a 75m extension for four double bases under Wynyard Basin option.
It would also include three double bases and one single base on the eastern side of Wynyard Wharf and one base on the landlocked ASB carpark site at Brigham St with an extension to Halsey Wharf and the sea.
The costs for planning and building the infrastructure will be finalised and negotiated between the council and Government in the New Year.