Improvement in the Auckland CBD will ultimately come down to a waiting game.
The ongoing construction remains a major contributing factor to the disruption and current aesthetic state of the CBD. Unfortunately, there's little the public can do but wait for those projects to be completed in the coming years.
But how much patience should we have?
"There's an acknowledgement that New Zealand isn't good in terms of the development of city centres," Pearse says.
"Aucklanders want development and they know that it takes time to get there. But how much time? Someone like Chlöe Swarbrick would probably say it has taken too long. While someone like Phil Goff would say he's had to deal with the funding impact of Covid-19 and everything is moving as fast as it can. It depends on what side of the fence you sit on."
In the meantime, New Zealand's underlying social issues have been laid bare for all to see in the city centre.
Pearse says the number of rough sleepers has increased markedly, placing immediate pressure on local decision-makers to address these issues rather than waiting for change to follow the completion of the construction projects.
"Speaking with organisations like Lifewise, there are more vulnerable communities in the city centre now than there have been," Pearse says.
"And they are recognising that that's having an impact, but they still have confidence that if we can link up the organisations that can provide the necessary support, then we can transition those people off the streets and into permanent housing, education or rehabilitation, which really should be the end goal."
The other major social issue causing concern is the growing crime rate, which is up 30 per cent when compared to pre-pandemic levels.
Local area commander Grae Anderson has told Pearse the question of how Auckland rebounds from Covid is a key priority for the police.
"Crime is increasing and it has reached a level that we didn't see between 2016 and 2020," Pearse says.
Police are looking to work with the community to ensure the CBD becomes a safe place for families.
"Anderson is encouraging residents to join their neighbourhood watch, to also become Māori and Pacific wardens and really take ownership of the space," Pearse says.
"The more people are out and about, the easier it is to police and the less likely we're going to see a continuation of this crime."
Improving the safety of the CBD will be integral in giving both families and businesses the confidence to return to this area and enjoy what's on offer.
This is particularly important given the plans to introduce a new school into the CBD.
"According to the Ministry of Education's national growth plan, there's going to be about 2500 extra students by about 2030.
"That will need to be accommodated by the education system within the centre or wider grammar area. And so the ministry has recognised there is a need for a new primary school."
The ministry is currently looking into potential land acquisition to allow for the building to commence.
"Chlöe Swarbrick has been big advocate for getting that process started. She says it's going a bit too slow and that the ministry aren't really responding. But the ministry say they are still looking."
The other big question hanging over the CBD is whether workers actually want to return to the city centre to do their jobs. The pandemic illustrated that many of us can work from home and that we don't need to travel far to get the goods we need. New habits have been formed, and many workers seem reluctant to let go of these changes.
So is there a chance the CBD might just be past its sell-by date and we're seeing the emergence of the age of the suburbs? And should resources instead be spent improving other parts of the greater Auckland region?
"Focusing on one or the other is the wrong way to go about it," Pearse says.
"You've got to look at it in a citywide Tāmaki Makaurau approach. If you focus on one area and neglect the other, it just becomes a piecemeal approach."
Pearse says you can already see a microcosm of this across the CBD.
"Places like Britomart, Commercial Bay and the Viaduct are great because they've been well-developed and designed. But then when you at other areas like Upper Queen St or Hobson St and Nelson St, it's far less attractive. That difference degrades the confidence in residents and visitors.
"So if we focus only on the city centre or only on suburbia, then we create this difference, and that's not helpful. What we need is a more consistent level of development across those areas."
The consequences of not doing this are apparent across the CBD right now, where a mad rush to catch up has caused the ugliness we all complain about.
In the meantime, the wait goes on for that process of catching up to reach a point more Kiwis can enjoy.
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