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Massive CBD tower announced

One of the reasons Lens suggestion of a $250 million kick start to the CRL is so interesting is that there are a heap of large private sector projects underway along the cut and cover portion of the route and it there is likely to be a lot of value working in with them as they are being built rather than waiting till they finish construction only to dig up the road in front of them for a few more years.

Today Len Brown has announced one of the biggest of these projects with the news that the Elliott Tower has gained resource consent approval from the council (the previous plan for the site had consent however the new owners have made a few alterations). I had heard that this project had been going on quietly in the background so it’s nice to finally be out in the public..

Plans for New Zealand’s tallest skyscaper, to rise in the heart of Auckland, have been unveiled today.

A $350 million 52-level 209m skyscraper has been announced for a CBD site left vacant since the 1980s when Chase Corporation demolished the Royal International Hotel.

Chinese developer New Development Group is to build the tower, known now as NDG Auckland Centre, on the site of a carpark and bungy jump bounded by Elliot St, Albert St and Victoria St.

Auckland Council has granted resource consent for the giant which will only be dwarfed by the 328m Sky Tower. A building consent is still pending.

And here is the image the herald have. If anyone has a higher quality image of what it will look like then please let me know.

Elliot Tower

This adds to a big list of developments that are being lined up in the CBD and particularly along or very close to the CRL route.

“It’s also an example of the major commercial opportunities created by the City Rail Link project. To date the private sector has confirmed more than a billion dollars of new investments along the proposed route, including Precinct Properties’ downtown retail and office development ($300m+) the NZ International Convention Centre ($400m+) and Elliott Towers ($350m+),” he said.

To add to that there are also two or three apartment towers planned along Albert St including this one and a few more on the same block.

When you think about all of the projects planned, spending $250 million to get infrastructure in place to work in with those buildings at the same time appears a pretty good idea. You also have to wonder if Len has been holding this announcement up his sleeve in case his initial suggestion got turned down (which it did). This will definitely add pressure to the government to support the kick start idea.

90 comments to Massive CBD tower announced

  • I’m glad something useful is going there. It’s such an ugly crater in the middle of the city.

  • Sam

    Exciting times. This is why now is the time to start the crl when private investors are willing to build. Not when we are in a market downturn that will probably be the case in 2020.

  • conan

    Certainly hope this building is linked to Aotea station. You could get an almost level exit to Queen St through it.

  • Luke C

    Of course this building will be a major entrance from Aotea station to Elliott and thus Queen St, so is heavily linked to CRL.

    • Max

      Well, it might have a major entrance to Aotea Station from 2025 or later, if our current government gets their timetable… (remember they are proposing 2020 START time, not operational). That’s like over a decade away.

  • greenwelly

    Anyone know what the composition of this tower is?
    Is is simpy a reincarnation of the previous elliot tower, i.e alomost all residential
    or will it be office space or a mix of the two?

  • Kent Lundberg

    Brown holds the trump card (not sure he realizes it) – the unprecedented demand for urban living, AKA the urban inversion.

  • RIchard29

    Some political reality though. The start date may not be 2015 (although it would be interesting to see how quickly government funding could get pushed through if we get a change of govt at the end of this year). But I think it is probably safe to assume the CRL starts well before 2020, it has the strong support of Labour and the Greens. To assume that the build occurs post 2020 is to assume that government policy remains unchanged, the city fails to hit the patronage number AND that John Key will still be PM at that stage having won both the 2014 and 2017 elections. Even most enthusiastic National supporters would be skeptical of him achieving that.

  • Ian Auld

    The development of Albert Street is very exciting. Do we know if the developers of these sites will be paying devlopment contributions? If so, could these also be put into the pot for some of the CRL works (particularly post cut and cover works?), thereby reducing the overall budget?

      • Sailor Boy

        “But Housing Minister Nick Smith says local authorities will need to “make hard choices” about the number and scale of parks, libraries and swimming pools and other community facilities they wanted if they were committed to the goal of bringing down skyrocketing house prices.”

        Is that because his government won’t let us make those choices about roads?

        • John Polkinghorne

          Well put, Sailor Boy. We’ll be writing some posts about development contributions soonish.

        • donna

          It’s long been a wet dream of the Right to reduce or eliminate public amenities that poor people use – you know, stuff like parks, libraries and swimming pools – and Nick Smith is just making it happen. The housing or amenities trade-off is grandstanding cobblers. Personally I wish Nick Smith (and that other South Islander Gerry Brownlee) would bugger off back to where he came from and leave Auckland to sort out its own urban development and transport problems.
          If you think developers should pay their fair share, here’s the link to the Bill the Herald article linked above refers to: http://www.parliament.nz/en-nz/pb/legislation/bills/00DBHOH_BILL12831_1/local-government-act-2002-amendment-bill-no-3
          And the draft of the Council’s submission to help you understand what it’s on about: http://infocouncil.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/Open/2014/02/REG_20140204_ATT_4578_EXCLUDED.PDF (Ironically for a city still dedicated to building roads, the prior agenda item is a lengthy piece on a the low carbon action plan.)
          Anyway, submissions close Friday the 14th. Off to do mine now.

          • conan

            “reduce or eliminate public amenities that poor people use – you know, stuff like parks, libraries and swimming pools”

            We wouldn’t fit into the ‘poor people’ grouping and have used a council provided version of all three of the items you list over the last week. The only thing different about them was them was that they were built way in the past. Not including them in newer developments is short changing not only the initial residents, but generations to come. It’s just so short sighted.

          • Sigmund

            Oh great, right v left. Yeah, that’s what it is. Go to The Standard if you’re going to post this dross.

        • conan

          Yes Sailor Boy that quote is disturbing. Basically he is saying that we should build cheap suburbs with minimal facilities and I guess those who can’t afford to live elsewhere can suck it. Or that existing ratepayers should stump up for these things, which doesn’t sound very National to me.

          I really doubt it will lead to any meaningful reduction in cost to the end purchaser- a developer will sell a property at the maximum price the market will pay, it’s not a cost plus equation. And the lack of facilities is not going to be obvious for a while.

      • nonsense

        I missed that one. Incredible how the govt is trying hard to make Aucklanders life as hard as possible.

      • Greg N

        Typical Smith, Just like his attacks on ACC, DOC, the RMA, treated timber in houses and “The housing crisis” – first order of business, manufacture “a crisis”, next order of business “solve it” by slashing stuff like “red tape”.
        Last order of business, wash hands of the predictable consequences that follow.

        To quote him on this “crisis” – “The National-led Government said development contributions had risen more than any other component of housing costs, from an average of $3000 to $14,000 in the past 10 year”

        So: Nick Smith says houses have doubled in price recently because NZ Councils Developer Contributions have gone up by 11 grand over 10 years?

        I hardly think this is the cause or any more than a minor factor.

        The prices of a house load of Gib, a roof of colour steel and a house load of (non leaky) cladding, and the labour costs for building a house from these has each gone up by more than this amount as well in the same time
        - but we don’t hear Smith talking about capping building product prices, or builders costs do we?

        The Good news: Smith will be out of job for good soon.

        The Bad news: like the ACC “crisis” , the DOC crisis, RMA crisis and the treated timber “crisis”, we will be picking up the pieces, in a piecemeal fashion for decades to come long after he has gone away.

  • Sailor Boy

    This is great news and it is high time that this site was redeveloped, it site on Elliot Street shared space and the future linear park on Victoria Street and the ground works will probably end up abutting directly onto Aotea station. AT will surely have to start buiding the station when this building goes in, if only to tie the station into an entrance through the building and onto Elliot Street. I envisage a wide open corridor through the centre of the floor that fronts Elliot Street lined with retail on both sides and possibly a wide stairwell up to Victoria Street. The linear park will need to be finished on this block at that stage to ensure that pedestrians flowing on to the street have sufficient space to move, and the signal phase on the pedestrian crossing at the end of Elliot Street will need to be shortened so that pedestrians have to wait no more than 20-30 seconds and the lights are either immediate yellow, or permanent loops.

    Even better is that as soon as construction work starts all of the cars accessing the carpark will disappear from Elliot Street.

  • Mark

    Why does it appear in the media that we are seeking the governments approval to spend our $250 however we want. If it makes commercial sense to co-operate with the private developers then its a no brainer.

    Why should the govt care if we shell out 250mill and get things started. Their funding can complete the loop at a later date. Dont need a cent from them for this 1st bit yes? So its got nothing to do with them surely.

    • Yes good question. My reading of things is that Len is wanting an assurance that the government will fund 50:50 of the total project before they commit any funding. I guess they’re worried that if they just shell out for this part then the government will say they will only fund 50:50 of whatever’s left of the project to build.

      • Greg N

        Thats my reading of the situation too Matt,
        Brown just wants agreement that the Government to fund the half the full project not the half the project less the Britomart to Aotea part AC paid for itself.

      • Harvey Specter

        Further to that, 50% is with a start date of 2020, so doesn’t mean that it is a lump sum on the 1st of Jan, it would be spread over the expected build timetable (say $200m a year for 5 years). What Brown is asking for is that this timetable is brought forward considerably which does effect govt budgeting.

    • Greg N

      Except Brown wants Key to confirm that they will pay for the promised half in the future.

      Yes, AC could build this right now from their own funds (heck they can borrow that much tomorrow if they wanted).

      And I think that Brown/AC will end having to go down that track unless Key does a flip-flop (and thats likely too BTW – once Key says the parade forming, he’ll get in front of it quick smart).

      • Harvey Specter

        I think/hope part of it is a game. Key doesn’t want to give the money on Lens (Labours) terms, he wants it give on Nationals terms. Lets hope for a “bold policy announcement for Auckland” prior to the election.

    • nonsense

      +1, good question

  • Here’s an artist’s concept,viewed from the Queen St / Victoria St intersection. (via)

  • Luke C

    I don’t think the developer will want to open a 5 star hotel that leads out onto a street with a huge hole in it. Delaying the CRL start to 2020 will surely delay the construction of this tower.

  • JohnP

    I got excited for a moment then read the news releases. None of them mention offices. It looks like hotel and apartments. Not really a major draw for the CRL, in fact given the low use of rail by city centre dwellings the two projects won’t really work together at all. At least something is going on that site though

    • Well the Precinct Properties building will be a 41 storey office tower.

    • JohnP don’t follow your logic- are commuters the only important travellers? Also the CBD office vacancy rate hit 1.6% so office space will be being built: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/property/news/article.cfm?c_id=8&objectid=11200148

    • Max

      I’d disagree. A CBD-living person may well not a car, and be a frequent user of the CRL to go to various places all over the Isthmus. Heck, he could be having an office in Greenlane, and still improve the CRL case by taking the empty(er) trains there in the morning.

      • Max

        When I say “emptier”, I mean because he would be using trains in the anti-tidal direction, our of the CBD in the morning.

        • yes I was really surprised by how full my southern line train leaving britomart before 9am was last week

          • Luke E

            Further to that, the CRL will make catching the train to work with the the CBD easier. Live near Britomart and work near K’Road? Why not catch the train? And vice versa. Or even Aotea to Britomart if you’re running late. It’ll be like a big city!

          • Yes in one fell swoop the CRL gives AKL a true Metro system over the much less useful terminus constrained current commuter one.

            Every city of comparable size all over the world would leap at the chance to get a 50 station Metro system merely for the cost of one 3.5 m tunnel. This is a huge bargain.

          • Sailor Boy

            Aotea to Grafton for uni students too. Any station in town to Britomart then a ferry, or to Smales Farm. Aotea/KRd to any number of stations for school age students, my mate next year, Aotea to Penrose. (well Britomart for now)

          • Steve D

            I wonder how much of that traffic out of Britomart is people connecting from buses, ferries and to/from the Eastern Line.

        • JohnP

          Yes a few people might want to commute out of the CBD I accept that. (2006 census said 36 people got the train to work from CBD west and 24 from CBD east) But one of the main reasons people choose to live in the CBD surely is so they don’t have to travel. They forego some of the amenity they can have elsewhere so they don’t have to have to use public transport or drive. You don’t justify $3billion to provide capacity in the reverse peak direction- it helps but its not why you spend it. In 2006 1% of work trips from the CBD were by train that is exactly the same as the Auckland City average which includes all the Auckland city suburbs where rail isn’t even an option. So I agree it will be nice for a few CBD people but it is not why you build CRL and CRL is not why they are building this tower in my view.

  • JohnP

    ok I will explain my disappointment a little bit. First when was the last major office building built in the CBD? (I don’t mean short buildings on the Western Reclaimation but a proper major office). Other than the Deloitte building I cant think of any in the last 10 years! Sure we are getting plenty of apartments and that makes the place lively but without a strong commercial focus the CBD risks becoming a suburb in the middle of town. By comparison the level of office space outside the CBD continues to increase. Part of it is a response to parking limits in the CBD and part a response and part to increased traffic congestion getting in and out of the CBD. but I would have hoped the CRL might turn it round a bit. Perhaps once CRL is underway the financials of CBD office construction might come back. A simple test is count the cranes in the CBD, Its not looking good at the moment just a few more residential buildings that David Lange might have called ‘filing cabinets for the low paid’

  • BD

    The Aotea station should have a built in concourse that will enable it to connect to the following development site in my opinion.

  • Kevin Welsh

    While the development of this site and the link in with the CRL is fantastic news, wouldn’t it be nice, if just once, Auckland could have a new building with just a hint of architectural merit instead of another variation on an upright 4 x 2?

  • oscil8

    It would be entirely predictable if some lone inner city heritage suburb dweller decided to dedicate their remaining years to blocking its construction because of impact on views, light, parking, congestion, attracting the hoi polloi to the centre and reducing property values

  • bbc

    NZHerald’s take:

    “Aucklanders frustrated about the lack of inner-city carparking could also get relief because the statement said six levels of below-ground car parking were planned.”

    Peddling mistruths as always.

    • Fred

      Lack of inner city parking? Prices are reducing which suggests an oversupply.

    • Phil-

      With 6 levels of parking this building is going to draw a lot of cars.

    • Max

      Yeah, the Herald expresses a total lack of understanding in that sentence, it’s pretty shocking on more than one level.

      Regarding consent – there’s an exemption to the otherwise very restrictive car park rules for the City Centre that allows up to 2 car parks for apartments if they are 80 sqm or larger. One car park for smaller apartments. Doesn’t take that many apartments to get compliance for the 600 or so car parks the building will have that way.

      • It’ll be those people landing at the airport with their cars again…. how do they do it? Anyway, whatever, if those 600 spaces are to be used daily then all the more need for the CRL as other drivers will have to be displaced off the narrow city streets. Streets which cannot and will not be widened, nor have less demand on them for other uses, like full time buslanes [Wellesley St], pedestrian amenity [Victoria St, Elliott], both [Queen St], bike lanes [most places], no matter how many more motorway lanes are [stupidly and expensively] directed at the city.

        This is a zero sum game.

        • Harvey Specter

          Apartment owners want cars as well. Just because you live in the CBD, doesn’t mean you get rid of your vehicle completely, you just drive it less. It may mean you drop down to 1 car between a couple or you have your “day” car and your weekend Ferrari (for those that can afford the penthouse).

          • Max

            “Just because you live in the CBD, doesn’t mean you get rid of your vehicle completely”

            Actually, apartment owners in the city centre are exactly the group that does so, ahead of the overall society. There was also a recent study showing that the Waitemata Local Board was the area with the highest number of 0 and 1 car households.

            I lived a perfectly fine life without a car in Auckland’s CBD for 7 years. My first apartment building had car parks for at best 25% of the apartments (though my second building in Grafton had 1-2 per apartment).

          • Harvey Specter

            I should have said, “doesn’t ‘necessarily’ mean you get rid of your vehicle completely”.

            I lived in the CBD for 6 years, and both me and my partner had cars, though I parked mine elsewhere as I worked in the CBD whereas my partner didn’t.

            Part of it would be down to demographics – I wonder the proportion of occupiers in Metrolpolis/Quaywest that have cars compared to the shoebox Student style apartments like Zest. The carpark at 1 Hobson street was always full at night and surprisingly empty during the day.

            Given this tower is more likely to be targeting a more wealthy demographic (since it is above a 5 start hotel???), then I assume most of them will want access to a car, even if it isn’t driven daily.

          • Parking is certain to be be fully priced in the new tower. As it should be, increasingly Auckland is becoming more city-like with regards to supply of space hungry ‘goods’ like parking; they are rationed by price.

            No complaints about that, much fairer than other forms of rationing, like privilege. So long, of course, as there are good alternatives available for those priced out of driving.

  • Does anyone know who the architect is? Presumably Moller Architects? ie same as did the last proposal for that site? And Fred – you say Consent has already been granted? So, it’s already been through a lengthy urban design panel review, which is meant to be public? So, how come no one has heard of it till today?

  • Bryan

    “when was the last major office building built in the CBD?”

    Delloitte Centre 2009
    Lumley Centre 2005
    PWC Tower 2002
    Vero Centre 2000

    Other recent buildings have been low rise but large footprint – Telecom Place, ASB, Westpac, Fonterra (under construction).

    • Max

      Wouldn’t call ASB or Telecom “low rise”. They to me are the perfect definition of mid-rise (4-8 floors).

    • Sailor Boy

      Isn’t the Vodafone building quite new too?

      • Luke C

        Plus Air NZ, NZI, the list goes on. Just that they are all mid rise. Means lots of new office space in CBD, just not in one big tower. Guess it has a lot to do with leasing economics, can easily pre-lease 4 floors or so, but might take a year or so to fill up a big new tower, plus lots of uncertainty if the economy crashed, so harder to get finance for the really big ones.

  • Luke C

    Well as public transport continues to improve (big issue is weekends now) and with services like CityHop plus easy access to rental cars, more and more people should be able to live without a car, or at least only one car per couple/family.

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