Of the two site options left on the table for the America's Cup team bases, only one appears to be viable.
The Auckland Council yesterday voted in favour of a three-wharf cluster option, in which team bases would be spread across the Hobson, Halsey and Wynyard wharves.
The decision nixed plans for a 230m Halsey Street wharf extension, initially favoured by Team New Zealand, which would have seen all syndicates based in a centralised location.
A third option, Wynyard Point, remains live, but only out of procedural courtesy. The Council included it in its resolution yesterday, after Auckland mayor Phil Goff told councillors "a third party" wanted that option explored.
That third party is David Parker, the as-yet unannounced minister for the America's Cup, who is said to favour the tank farm location, which includes bases on the eastern and western sides of Wynyard Wharf, as well as two syndicate bases on "site 18" – the stretch of Beaumont Street currently occupied by Team NZ.
This option had previously been discounted by Panuku Development Auckland. The planning agency did not include Wynyard Point in the shortlist of options it presented to councillors earlier this month.
The Wynyard Point option has a more palatable price tag of $117 million, but it comes with a number of fish hooks.
In Panuku's technical analysis of 10 potential locations for the America's Cup team bases, the Wynyard Point option was ranked fifth. The biggest hurdle for this option was the extensive lease arrangements in place, making site acquisition difficult in the required time frame. It is estimated it could cost the Council as much as $50 million to buy out the existing leases.
"The sites on Wynyard Point would be very difficult to obtain prior to the expiry of their lease to allow construction in the required timeframe," the analysis read.
Team New Zealand chief operating officer Kevin Shoebridge also pointed out at yesterday's meeting some areas earmarked for team bases will be problematic for launching boats due to the westerly winds, and it was too shallow in places. In some places the depth is just two metres at low tide and Team NZ have advised a draft of 5.5m or greater is required at all tides.
Despite Council feasibility studies scoring the Wynyard Point option poorly, it remains under consideration in the spirit of cooperation with the crown, who are effectively keeping Team NZ afloat currently, and will be leaned upon heavily to foot some of the infrastructure bill.
In that same spirit, Team NZ have compromised on their original vision of a bold single village in favour of the cheaper and less invasive "cluster option".
Despite the team accepting the simpler, cheaper option, it is one it finds short-sighted.
"It seriously restricts the ability for the marine industry to benefit from the berthing of the super yachts and the ability to extract maximum economic benefit," Team NZ said in a statement released yesterday.
"The final plan for the Wynyard Basin option will need to reincorporate the lost super yacht berth age within the event perimeter.
"We will continue to work constructively with council and government to progress the plans."
Goff and the council chief executive Stephen Town will now work to hammer out a formal agreement with the government and Team NZ. A final council decision on which option to seek resource consent for will be made next month, with a planning decision expected by July next year.