Retail space for lease is now being offered within a new village centre planned for Epsom and Greenlane on an initial 1.8 hectare Stage One site adjoining Alexandra Park on the corner of Greenlane West and Manukau Rd.
Alexandra Park, as the developer, earlier this year launched its 223 Green Lane West urban village concept encompassing over 230 apartments and is now seeking tenants for over 5500 sq m of ground floor space beneath four apartment buildings.
When completed the ambitious project will see a village centre for Epsom and Greenlane comprising a High St and side streets like East Gate and One Tree Hill Plaza lined with cafes, restaurants, bars and shops.
"Epsom and Greenlane don't have a village heart, like the suburban villages of Mt Eden Parnell and Ellerslie, and this will give the area that heart," says Ash Hira of Ray White Commercial who, with colleague Brice Clark, is marketing the first of the retail space on offer in the ground level of Building A within the complex.
"This is one of the most significant residential and high end retail developments in Auckland." The site is only five kilometres from downtown Auckland and is within Epsom's double grammar zone.
Auckland Trotting Club chairman Kerry Hoggard says the changes underway on club property are the most significant in the 125 year history of the city's harness racing home. "Part of the club's 'dustbowl car park' near the ASB Showgrounds is set to be completely transformed by the development," Hoggard says. "Along with growing our sport, we are determined to get more from the club's large central property holding. Beneath the residential apartment living, the club is now negotiating leases for the prime ground floor retail, hospitality and commercial space."
Dominique Dowding, chief executive of Alexandra Park, says the club's board is "very commercially savvy" and is well supported by club members who last year signed off on the nearly $200 million development in order Phase 1 of the master plan.
"We see quality and longevity as being at the forefront of this significant brownfields transformation," Dowding says.
Ash say negotiations are advancing well on leasing some of the larger format spaces with the inclusion of a specialist grocery store and the possibility of a gym for the area, along with a pharmacy and medical practices.
"Normally prospective tenants would be asking for the likes of demographic reports, but most operators understand this catchment well, with many keen to be here. The interest has been really strong, so we can achieve the best possible tenant mix with quality operators," Hira says.
"In effect we are actively promoting Auckland's next restaurant and café destination with plenty of opportunity of alfresco dining in and around attractive promenades and public spaces," Hira says.
"People in this part of Auckland say many locals are tired of driving into the town to enjoy a great restaurant and an alfresco dining experience."
Hira says some of the lanes within the village separating future buildings 1, 2 and 3 will be designated pedestrian only or will be foot traffic friendly with low speed vehicular traffic.
The food and beverage outlets in 223 Green Lane West will also draw on walkers visiting nearby Cornwall Park; the many people who work and visit the Greenlane Clinical Centre within the former Greenlane Hospital complex; and those attending events at the ASB Showgrounds or conferences at Alexandra Park.
"We're also looking to secure boutique lifestyle retailers offering the likes of giftware, homeware and beauty. Ground floor spaces now up for lease negotiation ranging in size from 62 sq m to 508 sq m," Hira says.
"We're able to pick the best operators and those who can offer consumers something different. This village centre is going to be a real destination for locals and the wider Auckland population."
Hira applauds Alexandra Park's decision to bring in Vancouver-based Canadian urban designer Joe Hruda of Civitas Urban Design to work on the master plan incorporating a village concept. "It's a masterstroke that will ensure a world-class overall environment. Civitas is known for its commitment to ecologically sensitive communities and 'sustainable city shaping' while architects RTA Studio, in conjunction with Sydney-based firm Daryl Jackson Robin Dyke.. have designed some stunning buildings - which is critical to attracting quality tenants."
Hira says that unlike many new centre developments the overwhelming amount of parking for about 200 vehicles will be underground, with only a smattering of street level car parks for the convenience store customers making a quick visit.
"Bordered by arterial roads, this boutique collection of retail and hospitality outlets will sit in a nice little oasis where people - not the car - take priority and indoor-outdoor flow is seamless," he says.
Clark says High St will form the central village spine connecting precinct squares, plazas, gardens and parks into a cohesive network.
"A big planning emphasis is being placed on walkability along with the inclusion of cycleways to provide welcoming public space for people to amble and gather," he says.
"Open-air dining, wide footpaths and fine quality retail will be punctuated by intimate courtyards to enrich the pedestrian experience with protected outdoor cafes, fountains, vines, trees and lush planting.
"The East Gate precinct of the development will serve as Alexandra Park's 'green front door' gateway comprising a pedestrian-oriented boulevard framed by tall palms, mixed use buildings and an active street life.
"A central linear urban park and plaza; and a grocer and café culture will blend into attractive public spaces with convenience oriented stores.
"One Tree Hill Plaza is envisaged to have a water fountain as a meeting point where High St intersects with One Tree Plaza and has been designed to reflect the rich history of the area the development is located in," Clark says.
"This landscaped heart will provide public spaces for people watching and mingling with café edges enhanced by plentiful seating, public artwork, street furniture and attractive lighting while opening up a superb vista towards One Tree Hill."
Hira says the natural landscape works in harmony with Feng Shui principles. "Open spaces shown an easy flow of fortunate qi, while water features and natural hill formations support long term health."
He says the development can be summarised as "an integrated, urban community where people can live, work and thrive in a healthy, supportive and attractive environment.
"We believe Alexandra Park will fast become a must-live, must-visit destination that will enhance Epsom's status and desirability as a premium Auckland suburb."
Dowding says having tenants will not be a new experience for Alexandra Park itself as it already has a number of them including the popular Grand Park Chinese restaurant.
"Another exciting development for Alexandra Park is underway in relation to the construction of a dedicated training centre for The Blues on the far side of the racetrack near Campbell Crescent. The Super 15 rugby franchise's new base is set to open by the end of this year. A practice field has been developed in the middle of the track."
"Our chairman is absolutely right when he says Alexandra Park is going through its biggest changes since racing began here in 1890," Dowding says.