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Federal St upgrade announced

The council has finally released plans to create a shared space on part Federal St in conjunction with SkyCity. The upgrade has been proposed for some time and originally was going to be paid for by SkyCity and built in time for the RWC in return for getting the right to build another larger skybridge across the road. A number of people didn’t like the idea of the air bridge so the plan got delayed and the casino eventually gave up on that plan and have worked with the council on just the street upgrade. This will see Federal St between Wellesley St and Victoria St upgraded along with the plaza around the base of the Sky Tower. The objectives are that it:

  • integrates with other city centre upgrade and transport projects
  • provides an intimate, high quality pedestrian-focused street that encourages pedestrian activity
  • supports local businesses and attracts investment by providing an appropriate level of vehicular movement and servicing activity
  • is a distinctive destination entertainment precinct with a unique mix of retail, cafes, restaurants and entertainment venues
  • provides a high quality, attractive, safe and durable streetscape.

The plan is being jointly funded by the council and SkyCity at a total cost of $10m however it hasn’t been mentioned how much is coming from each party. The plans include:

  • a shared space streetscape environment be introduced between Wellesley Street and Victoria Street
  • maintenance of the current one-way direction of traffic flow (south to north)
  • long-term bus/coach parking areas be removed
  • introduction of a signalised pedestrian crossing at the intersection of Wellesley and Federal Streets.

Consultation is now open till 5pm November 16. Its good to see this project moving forward and I’m pleased that a shared space has been proposed, unlike what was done with O’Connell St. It would however be nice to also see some upgrade love being shared to other parts of Federal St, the section between Victoria and Wyndham St is particularly horrible while the section to the north of St Patricks Square, including the side streets of Swanson St and Wolfe St could also be vastly improved into quite a nice corner of town.

22 comments to Federal St upgrade announced

  • Well this will be an improvement, and it has been good to see Sky City taking good advice and piercing the barrier of its fortress-like ring wall at a few places like the Tapas bar Bellotta. But it is hard to get too excited as this street has been destroyed and owned by arrival of the Sky City ‘block’ with its totally introverted vehicle fed customer-entrapment model. With the exception of Bellotta and now Depot over the road the arrival of Sky City to town has been nothing short of a disaster at street level. So turned inward and away from its location, and so focussed on directly importing and exporting its customers from elsewhere by car, that really this thing could be anywhere along the motorway system. It even has its own direct motorway fed tunnel and NZTA signage to be sure its customers do stray into the city by accident on their way to its vast subterranean carpark/creche. And every one of our streets surrounding this thing have been altered to facilitate the movement of vehicles into and around it to the great detriment of streetscape, human scaled amenity and urban quality.

    It is hard to remember but Federal St used to have the charm, scale, and texture of High St on the other side of the valley, just that it had yet to be gentrified. But the westside has never had much love from councils over the years and has largely be sacrificed to car circulation and storage. We can undo these mistakes of the last century but only if we don’t allow more mall-modelled industries like this one to take over.

    So a little improvement, a small return, and one that Sky City will benefit the most from because even they have discovered that the miserable environment they made with their mean and narrow calculations [and a compliant council] is not good for business since they expanded beyond that first block.

    The real issue is what we [The Council] let them do next. Now that Key is forcing yet more gaming onto this part of town and yet more control to Sky City the real battle is to not allow them to destroy another whole block. Hopefully this is a good sign that this can be done constructively, but it is important that Council don’t give them much rope…. Hell we’re even working towards building them a very convenient Underground Station connected to a very high capacity network, oh!, them and the AA; how thoughtful.

    • bbc

      Indeed, and the planned conference centre appears to be more of the same, with sky bridges spanning Hobson and massive tour bus entrances on Nelson next to their existing underground carpark feeder.

  • Richard D

    It does seem strange that the section to the north of St Patricks Square, along with Swanson Street, is not being done coordinated with the work at the ANZ Centre to create public space there. I would have thought that mix of shared space and pedestrianisation from Fanshawe Street to Wyndham Street would be relatively easy to achieve. But I will declare an interest as i live there.

    • bbc

      Takes money though doesn’t it, and if some of those billions set aside for mega motorways was allowed to be spent on improving the CBD then we’d see a rapid improvement but alas the council is limited to rather small sums, whereas NZTA has hundreds of millions to throw at simply investigating and selling motorways to the public.

  • Luke

    The consultation form does say that eventually, the whole street, from Mayoral Drive to Fanshawe, will be a shared space. Let’s hope that it happens sooner rather than later, because it has so much potential.

  • JohnP

    Interesting that some submitters were opposed to the airbridge. Could someone pease tell me what the objections to airbridges might be? I personally think they’re quite cool. The only reason I can think of for opposition to them is that they block a bit of light or a little bit of the viewshaft depending on where you are, but surely there are more important things than airbridges to be worried about? And they make good places to have crossings underneath as they give shelter from the rain.

    • Nick R

      They block light, concentrate wind and place a large looming mass over the street. The sky city one was, if I recall correctly, two stories tall and very wide. More like a building over the street tha a simple glass footbridge.

      Indeed there are more important things to worry about than sky bridges, shared spaces, streets, casinos or even cities. But we have to get the small stuff right, or the big stuff is futile.

      • Kent Lundberg

        They also defeat street life by allowing office workers to move around and visit services without being on the street.

        • max

          As Kent says. Air bridges need to be handled carefully to not create a “turning back” on the public realm. I won’t say that I am against them – in some locations where the pedestrian volumes are REALLY high, they make sense – but they should not be abused. Especially, they need not be abused as an excuse, for example, to improve the horrible lot of pedestrians on Hobson Street.

          • Air bridges here, or rather air buildings, are all about Sky City’s ‘customer entrapment’ model than about any improvement to place value. Brothels and Casinos both work hard to entrap and bewilder their customers into losing track of time in order that they may more speedily lose track of their spending too [and of course the kids in the carpark].

            No need for airbridges here because of conflicts at street level but simply because Sky City don’t want any of their punters getting other ideas like leaving any of their businesses.

        • max

          That was to say “as an excuse to NOT improve…” of course.

    • Bbc

      Have a look at the renders that were proposed for this sky bridge, the outcome would have been similar to what you can see on the western side of broadway under the carparking buildings. Sky city wanted to build a conference centre on top of this space not just a walkway n

  • Jym

    One way vehicle direction. Hope that contra-flow for cyclists (technically vehicles) will be allowed?

    • Max

      That will certainly be one of the comments in my submission for CAA – though in practice, cyclists will use it that way anyway, so more a “get-it-formally-ok-too-please”

      • Feijoa

        What is the formal rule for cycling both ways in the existing shared spaces – Elliot St, Fort, etc?

      • Jennifer

        Federal Street is my preferred route, both ways through the cbd, but southbound from St Patricks can be pretty fraught. I am stoked that Federal Street is to be upgraded. Two-way cycling should most definitely be provided for. .

  • Latest Metro Mag (not online) has a very interesting article on High St in which three trends are confirmed:

    1. Cameron Brewer just may be the dimmest man to ever enter local politics (!)

    2. The Orakei Board are profoundly wrong about cities but of course feel fully entitled to force their tired last century views on the rest of us.

    3. And many fashion retailers are surprisingly attached to failed and outdated views on what would improve their businesses. Talk about trying to sell last seasons image…. Of course the fashion world is only occasionally as free and as radical as it likes to think it is, but in the face of hard evidence a number of the High St grandees seem determined to resist any improvement to their area. Down with the ship!

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