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Getting on with the CRL

There seems to have been a bit of a “passive aggressive ding dong” going on between Mayor Len Brown and Prime Minister John Key over the City Rail Link in recent months. Back in February, Mayor Brown proposed to “kick start” the CRL by building the first section under the downtown shopping mall and some way up Albert Street. Then shortly after the Elliott Street tower was announced, bringing further pressure on starting the project sooner rather than later.

Yet so far it seems the government hasn’t taken the bait, although critically in the PM’s official response to an earlier start he noted the following:

Your letter also outlined some projects, many being undertaken by the private sector that could be affected by the City Rail Link and raised the question of whether an opportunity existed to reduce disruption to the CBD and some of these projects.

I indicated in the meeting with you that I would be getting some advice on the issues you raise. I am in the process of receiving advice including on the possible impact on some of the projects you cite.

That seems like a fairly deliberate effort on behalf of the PM to leave the door slightly ajar for a change of heart. So let’s look at the major issue, which is the relationship between the timing of any redevelopment of the current Downtown Shopping Mall and the CRL project. Originally Auckland Transport was to buy this site, because construction of the CRL requires the demolition of the entire shopping mall as it passes through the area as a “cut and cover” tunnel. However, a deal was done between Auckland Transport and the site owners – Precinct Properties – so that the site wouldn’t need to be acquired, there’d just be some good co-ordination so that the tunnels could be built and Precinct’s redevelopment could occur.

The map below shows how the CRL tunnels pass directly underneath Precinct’s site, with the area shaded red indicating where a consented high-rise tower is proposed:

downtown-mall-siteIt doesn’t take a genius to work out that the tunnels need to be built before any development can take place. It seems simply impossible to build the tunnels without completely destroying everything on the site above – which means that essentially any redevelopment is delayed until the tunnels are completed. Let’s just say if I were Precinct Properties I’d be pretty pissed off with the government’s attitude at the moment.

So what’s a way to work around this issue? As proposed by the Mayor in February, it seemed like the Council’s plan was to fully fund the initial section of the project (potentially including going under Customs Street perhaps?) at a cost of around $250 million. Given the Council plans to spend close to $200m on CRL in the 2014/15 year it appear like such an outlay is fairly affordable. The government doesn’t want to spend money on CRL until 2020, but it’s not like they’re being asked to in this plan so I struggle to see the problem.

Perhaps the Mayor is concerned that government’s rough promise of a “50/50 split” in the cost of the project only applies to any money spent after 2020 – as that’s when they think the project is required. The risk of building the first section without government support seems to be a worry that they don’t front up with their $125 million come 2020, which is an understandable concern. But surely a bit of clever negotiation could resolve this and both parties can come away happy – Len Brown because he’s finally put a spade in the ground and started his flagship project, and the government because they don’t hold up a major redevelopment, don’t have to spend any money yet and bask in a bit of election year good press over not standing in the way of a very popular project.

Everyone wins. Let’s just get on with it.

Photo of the Day: Bilbao Metro

The Norman Foster designed Bilbao Metro is elegant and efficient. Not an easy business fitting metro access points into a old city, and the somewhat zoomorphic street entrances are about as discrete and unfussy as possible while remaining unapologetically contemporary and not without wit. The underground stations are pleasingly functional too with their sectioned concrete carapace. Calm and cocooning. It is, even more than the famously curved London Tube, like entering into the umbilica of some city-sized and recumbent and welcoming animal. The Basques, it seems, have their Taniwha too…

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Photographs by Patrick Reynolds.

20 by 2020

With the news that Auckland Rail ridership hit 11 million for the year to March 2014 it is time for some quick back of the envelope math:

Readers will recall that when PM Key announced support for the City Rail Link in June last year it was coloured by a disagreement with the Council over the timing of the need for the project. The Council wants it to be operational by 2020 and the government doesn’t think construction should start until that date. However he said that if ridership was heading to 20mil in 2020 that [along with Centre City employment growth] would support the case for the Council’s view on timing.  Matt considered both these metrics at the time here.

So where are we at now? Ridership at the end of June 2013 was almost exactly 10mil: http://transportblog.co.nz/2013/07/28/june-2013-patronage/ Less than a year later and it is now 11 mil. 3 months to go and already 10% growth. To reach 20mil by 2020 a rate of 10.4% is sufficient.

So what do you say Mr Key? How about we wait till June just to be sure then you can send a note to Treasury to ringfence the funding over the construction period?

Good to have that sorted then…

OK, I can hear the cynics out there saying that you can’t just extrapolate ridership growth from one year out indefinitely and that is indeed true, almost as absurd as assuming traffic growth will leap upwards from a flat line; well almost. So we must ask are there good reasons to believe that ridership growth will continue at this rate? Well no, but there are three good reasons to be confident that it will in fact accelerate from this year even more strongly;

1. The vastly more attractive, higher capacity, and able to be more frequently run New Trains

2. The new integrated ticketing and fares system

3. The New Bus Network that is focussed on coordinating with the Rail Network to help speed and improve many journeys, from new transfer stations like the recently completed Panmure, New Lynn, and coming Mangere and Otahuhu.

Ok what else? Are there any precedents elsewhere for this confidence? Well, again no, because to our knowledge no other city has improved so much at once, but there is the example of Perth, where they did both electrify and extend the existing rail network in the 1990s then add an underground inner city link and a new line in the 2000s, both investments rewarded with the big jumps in ridership visible in the chart below. And interestingly they started with both a similar population to Auckland [a bit higher, but more dispersed] and a similar rail ridership at the start [10mil]:

perth-patronage

 

So because of these already underway changes we consider it highly likely that ridership will hit 20 million well before 2020, although that will be inhibited by the constriction caused by the deadend at Britomart, which will continue to restrict AT from responding to higher demand with the really high frequencies, the very problem which of course the CRL will address, elegantly and efficiently, as well as improving reach and speed. It is clear that the Council’s plan to stage the construction in order to spread the works disruption and their understanding of its near term need is compelling and necessary.

We should also remember that rail ridership has grown by some 400% since the opening of Britomart [annualised: 18% pa, so this has been a consistent grower since even simple improvements were added to what was a completely under invested in system. Build it and they will indeed come.

It is also worth noting that no motorway network shows or is required to show anything like a 10% demand growth in order to get even 50% funding from government. In fact the government had to invent an abstract and novel category of road -The Road of National Significance- in order to get around the low traffic demands all over the nation and overcome their often appallingly low business cases. For example traffic demand in and around Wellington is going backwards, actually falling, but NZTA can’t stop drawing lines down every fault-line for new motorways there. How about 10% demand growth hurdles for investment all transport systems?

Anyone looking for a sure-bet infrastructure project certain to return a transformational shift then here it is: the CRL.

Here’s a chart for the more visual among you, spot the outlier? Off the chart at +384%:

train-pax-growth-31

From: http://chartingtransport.com/2010/11/13/public-transport-patronage-trends/

Auckland Rail hits 11 million

The day after the letter from John Key saying that the government still doesn’t support the CRL, Auckland Transport announces that the rail network has reached another milestone. Over the last year there have been more than 11 million trips on the rail network and it’s the first time we have reached that mark. That’s significant for a few reasons:

  • It continues the recent trend of strong patronage growth and shows that March Madness is living up to its reputation.
  • It finally ends our almost two year post RWC patronage hangover, something that helped fuel the arguments of those opposing the CRL like Cameron Brewer.
  • It has come in advance of the electrification which will only make services even more attractive.

Here’s the press release.

Thanks Auckland – you’re one in 11 million 

Aucklanders are getting on board with trains in record numbers – making a record 11 million trips in the past year.

This milestone comes just weeks before Auckland’s new electric trains are introduced and is the highest number of passengers ever on the current rail network.

Auckland Transport chairman Dr Lester Levy says Aucklanders are using public transport more than ever as improvements to services make it a more attractive option. “We are now seeing 5,000 additional passenger journeys each business day compared to a year ago. People are responding to initial improvements such as integrated ticketing, better on-time performance and improved facilities like the new transport hub at Panmure and there’s a lot more to come.”

When Britomart Transport Centre opened in 2003, just 2.5 million trips were made on trains.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown says the milestone is very welcome.

“One thing is is certain with regard to public transport in Auckland. If you build it people will use it. I am confident that now integrated ticketing is in place and as our new electric trains go into service, this won’t be the last patronage record we will break.

The implementation of the New Network and the City Rail Link will also boost numbers.”

Transdev operates the trains for Auckland Transport. It says it is pleased to see that its major focus on performance over the past 12 months is translating to improved patronage.

Transdev Managing Director Terry Scott says “We are working hard with our partners at Auckland Transport and KiwiRail to improve network performance and we are striving every day to achieve excellence in the customer experience.”

Dr Levy says the upward trend in numbers is pleasing given that during the past year rail services have been regularly disrupted due to electrification works on the network. “We are making strides with an ageing fleet of diesel trains which are now 60 years old, just imagine what we will do with new trains.”

Based on the announcement my guess is we’re on track to set a new monthly record too which is great. It even makes me wonder if we could finally pass Wellington for patronage sometime this year.

Bring on the electric trains.

EMU Newmarket from AT

John Key says no to fast tracking CRL …. for now

A letter sent from John Key to Len Brown has once again ruled out agreeing to an early start to the City Rail Link. The letter has been uploaded by George Wood.

Dear Len

We met on 4 February and discussed the proposal contained in your letter of 30 January in relation accelerating the City Rail Link project .

In the days following that meeting you would have seen comments I made in response to media questions about your proposal.

I want to acknowledge firstly your desire to accelerate the City Rail Link project and the work you have done generally to champion it.

We both share an understanding of the importance of the Auckland CBD to the economy and quality public transport is an essential ingredient of a properly functioning CBD and city.

That is why the Government I lead has invested so heavily in such things as electrification of rail in Auckland and major roading projects such as completing the Western Ring Route.

As you are aware in my speech in June last year the Government accelerated the timing of start of construction on the City Rail Link project by a decade – from 2030 to 2020 – and set some conditions for it to be accelerated even further.

In the speech I announced the Government was committing to a joint business plan for the City Rail Link with Auckland Council in 2017 and providing its share of funding for a construction start in 2020.

And I said we are prepared to consider an earlier start date if it be comes clear that Auckland’s CBD employment and rail patronage growth hit thresholds faster than current rates of growth suggest.

While the data from the Ministry of Transport does not currently show the justification exists for further acceleration that does not rule out the possibility that the thresholds will be hit in future.

Your letter also outlined some projects, many being undertaken by the private sector that could be affected by the City Rail Link and raised the question of whether an opportunity existed to reduce disruption to the CBD and some of these projects.

I indicated in the meeting with you that I would be getting some advice on the issues you raise. I am in the process of receiving advice including on the possible impact on some of the projects you cite.

I would also anticipate that officials and the Minister of Transport will continue to engage constructively with your Council and Auckland Transport about issues related to the CRL.

While there are no current indications that the conditions exist for accelerating the CRL as I said earlier that does not rule out such conditions existing in the future.

The fact is that the Government has made a heavy investment in both rail and road infrastructure in Auckland and that will continue.

I am sure we will be discussing this issue again at our next meeting.

Yours-sincerely-

Rt Hon John Key
PRIME MINISTER

In other words “nice try Len but we’re too busy building a whole heap of roads”.

I happened to run into Len last night and had a quick chat to him. As he always does, he believes the government will eventually come around and he specifically mentioned that he thinks the private sector will start putting more and more pressure on the government to get the project done sooner. I’m also aware that both Key and Brownlee have had discussions with Precinct Properties about their planned development and the CRL and we know they are big supporters of it – especially as some parts of it are effectively a pre-requisite for their plans.

CRL Cut and Cover section

The other thing to remember is that in recent months we have seen rail patronage start to take off again and indications are that March could be a massive month. In fact it wouldn’t surprise me if we end up seeing some new records set. What’s more this growth is coming before we see the first electric trains on the tracks carrying actual passengers (which happens one month away today).

John Key has left himself an out and my guess is he will probably end up having to use it

How rail upgrades help the North Shore

Whenever there is public discussion on projects that improve the rail network – whether it be electrification or the city rail link – we often see comments to the effect of “but it doesn’t do anything to help the North Shore”. We’ve written a number of posts in the past that look at this issue and primarily commented on the CRL as benefiting the North Shore by removing buses from CBD streets from parts of the region near the rail network, therefore freeing those streets up for more buses from places like the Shore. From next week I’ll be working on the Shore and it’s made me think about this some more. What I’ve realised is that projects like the CRL help the North Shore in another, and perhaps an even more important way than just allowing more for buses to head to the CBD.

That other way it helps the Shore is through access to employment. Let me explain.

It’s generally accepted by most people that some of the main benefits of the CRL are that it provides significant extra transport capacity to the CBD and that it reduces travel times by providing stations closer to where more employment is located, this is especially the case for the western line which no longer would have to have to go the long way through Newmarket. Those benefits are said to double the number of people within a 30 minute trip of the city centre. What is often forgotten is that those travel time savings also benefit anyone going from the North Shore to other parts of the region. So why is that useful?

We’ve talked a lot recently about land use planning and one of the common arguments we hear is that we should focusing on having more jobs closer to where people live so that they don’t have to travel as far. As I’ve said before, it’s a nice theory but ignores the fact that often certain jobs are only located in specific places and often one of the key reasons businesses choose to locate where they do is for access to the labour pool. The CBD might not be the exact geographical centre of the city but it is the area that overall is easiest to access from the most places in the region. That means businesses in the CBD have access to a huge potential pool of employees. This can be shown quite usefully using mapnificint with the map below showing how far someone could travel PT and walking up to 45 minutes from Britomart. You can see it covers all of the Isthmus along with large parts of North and West Auckland, the area surrounding southern line train stations and up towards Howick in East Auckland.

Isthmus travel distance

By comparison if we look at the distance we could travel within 45 minutes from a regional centre like Takapuna – which is only really a relatively short distance away – the difference is dramatic. The North Shore is well covered along with the CBD and fringe suburbs, there is also a little bit of coverage in the North West. What’s not covered is the rest of the Isthmus and West Auckland and none of South or East Auckland. All of this means that businesses in Takapuna have a much smaller pool of potential employees to choose from and that could be crucial in enabling them to be more productive.

Takapuna travel distance

Of course there are a couple of issues to clarify here. Many people would probably be prepared to travel more than 45 minutes, I just chose that timeframe to explain the point and people could always drive – although they would likely have to battle with CBD bound traffic for part of their trip.

With benefits of electrification and the CRL combined, travel time to the city centre could drop by over 15 minutes from some parts of the rail network to the city centre and while that’s good for the CBD, it’s positive for other parts of the region too. Making it easier to get to places like the Shore will help encourage more businesses to set up there and the primary beneficiary of that will be those who live in the area. While I’ve talked about people getting to the North Shore, it also can help improve the options for someone might live on the Shore wanting to travel further than the CBD.

What is employment in the city centre, anyway?

I wrote most of this post back in November, when the latest CBD-specific employment data came out. We didn’t publish it at the time, since we felt we had given the topic enough coverage already, but it seems appropriate to revisit it now that the Ministry of Transport has released some new documents on progress towards the government’s targets for starting the City Rail Link early.

In a way, this can be thought of as an unofficial peer review of one of the MoT documents – a report by Richard Paling Consulting (abbreviated as RPC below). At least, it’s my own attempt to tackle the same questions as that report did, and come up with specific, measurable targets from what was actually a fairly vague government statement. Here goes, with the embedded quotes being parts I wrote in November:

Following on from our earlier posts here and here, let’s take a closer look at National’s employment target for starting to build the City Rail Link early (i.e. around 2015, not 2020). When John Key announced that the government would consider making an early start, he gave two conditions. Auckland doesn’t have to meet these conditions immediately, but simply show that it is on track to meeting them.

The employment target is for “Auckland city centre employment [to increase] by 25 per cent over current levels – that is half the increase predicted in the Future Access Study”

As far as we’re aware, National hasn’t actually explained how the employment condition works. There doesn’t seem to be a formal policy relating to it: just John Key’s initial announcement. There are several questions which need to be answered (and should have been already) if National sticks with its current position:

  1. What data source is used?
  2. How is the “city centre” defined?
  3. What base year is used?
  4. What final year is used?

What data source is used?

The census is probably the most accurate data source on employment at the local level. The employment results from the 2006 census are out, but the 2013 ones aren’t. The next census is still years away – a year for it hasn’t even been finalised – and the data would come out too late to make a difference to the CRL start date. For a 2016 census, we’d be looking at the data coming out in 2018. Overall, I don’t think the census will be much help in showing whether the city centre is on track to reach National’s target.

The other data source is business demographics. These aren’t as accurate, but they are released each year. This is the data source that National will probably need to base their condition on, and it’s what our analysis has focussed on so far.

RPC reached the same conclusion – that business demographics data are the most suitable for measuring progress against the target.

How is the “city centre” defined?

The definition of the city centre is something we’ve looked at several times on the blog. The “CBD” is usually defined as the area bounded by the motorways. However, when you’re dealing with data, the most common definition is based on Statistics New Zealand boundaries, and those are slightly different. It cuts out the southern side of Karangahape Rd, including Ironbank, and some of Auckland’s more colourful nightlife spots. It cuts out the eastern part of Symonds St south of Wellesley – plenty of university buildings there.

If you limit the CBD definition to the area inside the motorways, you cut out everything west of the Northern Motorway, including Beaumont Quarter,  Freemans Bay, the new GHD building, Victoria Park New World, and so on. You cut out everything east of Stanley St, including the Carlaw Park precinct, the creative quarter on the southern side of The Strand, and so on.

As far as I can tell, the City Centre Future Access Study which John Key refers to uses the traditional CBD definition, whether it’s based on the Statistics New Zealand boundaries or something slightly different.

In fact, Nick and Matt have argued that the “central city” covers a larger area than just the traditional CBD. Given that central areas like Newmarket, Parnell, Grafton and Newton will benefit significantly from the CRL, you can make a strong argument for their inclusion.

In short, it’s hard to find a perfect definition for the city centre – but the choice of definition can be pretty important. This is especially true given that the Freemans Bay area unit (immediately west of the CBD and including all those developments west of the Northern Motorway) saw major employment growth in the last year.

RPC included parts of Grafton and Newton in their definition, in order to ensure that all the area inside the motorways was covered – as shown in their map below:

CBD definition by RPC

This is a valid definition, one of several that might have been chosen. Again, there’s the difficulty of trying to choose a specific meaning from a vague target. However, I think it’s more of an issue that the target itself reinforces a misleading view – that the CRL is mainly about the CBD. It’s not; the project has many benefits, including dramatically increasing the capacity of the rail network throughout Auckland, reducing congestion for vehicle drivers, and removing an impediment to further employment growth in the CBD. It is a regionally (indeed, nationally) significant piece of infrastructure.

What base year is used?

As for what base year is used, your guess is as good as mine. The City Centre Future Access Study uses a 2006 base year, and the most logical approach National could take would be to do the same. Otherwise, they might try to argue for a 2012 base year, although there isn’t really a clear rationale for doing so, except that they announced their ‘support’ in 2013, and the most recent data available then was 2012.

If  2006 is the base year, then we’ve already come a way since then – using business demographics data, employment in the CBD (based on Statistics New Zealand boundaries) has grown from 80,390 in February 2006 to 91,130 in February 2013. This is 13.3% growth in seven years, much faster than the Auckland or New Zealand average in that time, and despite a very flat economy.

RPC adopts a 2012 base year, although they don’t seem to give a reason for this choice. Their interpretation and mine are both valid, although I think mine is more consistent with the reference to the CCFAS in National’s targets. You could take the view that the 25% growth starts from the time of National’s announcement, or that 2012 data – and indeed, the announcement does say growth from “current levels” – but removing six years from the modelling period isn’t really fair. Following that logic, if National had made the announcement in 2017 rather than 2013, the CBD would only have a couple of years to grow by 25% – which clearly wouldn’t be possible.

What final year is used?

Just as important as the choice of base year is the choice of final year. Does employment need to grow by 25% over 10 years, or over 20? Because 14.0% of jobs in Auckland, or 4.7% of jobs in New Zealand, are in the CBD (using the tighter Statistics New Zealand boundaries). The number of jobs which need to be created is significant at the regional and the national level, and they won’t just come from nowhere, overnight.

The City Centre Future Access Study assumes that CBD employment grows by 54% over 35 years, from 2006 to 2041, or annual growth of about 1.24%. National should be giving us around 17 years, i.e. from 2006 to 2023 or so – anything less would be pretty unfair, especially with the recession in the early years of that period, and with the CRL not yet built. That’s a target Auckland could meet easily, and we’re well on track. I doubt National has this kind of timeframe in mind, though, or it wouldn’t be an aspirational target.

National do seem to be talking about a 2020 end date for the 25% growth, and RPC also use this as an end year. I’ve since heard that the CCFAS, using some slightly sketchy modelling, assumed very strong employment growth to 2020 when the CRL was assumed to open, of the order of 25%, and that this was part of the rationale for National choosing the target. With that said, I still stand by what I wrote in November!

Summing up

National’s targets are pretty arbitrary: they’re poorly defined, and after all, the CRL is about much more than just increasing CBD employment.

Realistically, the Council needs to stick with its current work programme, which is to make all the required preparations to be able to start building the CRL in 2015 or soon after. If National manage to stay in power after the next election, and stick to their guns over their two conditions (and choose their definitions to make them as hard to reach as possible), they could manage to delay the project.

I’d rather point to things such as the higher residential population in the CBD, or the network capacity which the CRL unlocks, or widespread support from both Aucklanders and the business community. There is still a big job to do in advocating for an earlier start to this project.

Of course, Len is now also pointing to several major projects which will be majorly benefited by an early start to the CRL.

Aotea Station & the Elliott Street tower

On Wednesday it was announced that consent had been granted to build  a $350 million, 209 metre skyscraper on the empty site at the corner of Victoria, Albert and Elliott streets. This site is location right up against Aotea Station on the City Rail Link, which will be dug out underneath Albert Street in the block between Wellesley and Victoria Streets.

The map below shows the site’s location in relation to Aotea Station:

aotea-station-entranceWe’ve said previously, including in our submission on the CRL’s designation application, that a pedestrian entrance to Aotea Station through this site is an absolute no-brainer – especially an entrance that lined up with where Darby Street meets Elliott Street so there’s a ‘line of sight’ level way of accessing Aotea Station from Queen Street. Whether it can go straight from Darby into the station or whether it needs to be on some sort of angle probably depends on whether the stupid slip lane on Albert Street is retained or not. But different options for some pedestrian connection through the site could work like what’s shown below:

aotea-linkThe obvious way to provide the link (whether it’s the blue option or the red one) is through some sort of retail arcade at ground level. This is a “win win” situation as it provides a high quality connection between Queen Street and Aotea Station that is flat (rather than people having to trek up Victoria Street) while also creating a huge amount of foot traffic for a successful retail area for the building owner.

A risk that may arise from any delay to the construction of CRL is the possibility that we may lose this opportunity. As Auckland Transport haven’t designated for access to the station across this site, we are reliant upon the goodwill of the developer to provide the connection (although obviously it’s to their advantage due to the foot traffic). But would they build a major retail arcade without the far end of it linking with Auckland’s busiest train station? There may also be helpful synergies of building both the tower and the station at the same time – in terms of underground services, traffic disruption as well as how the two might link together at the Albert Street boundary.

Compared to the dependency of Precinct’s development on the timing of  the CRL this is a fairly minor issue. However there do appear to be some important links between the new skyscraper and Aotea Station – particularly in relation to getting the pedestrian links right. Furthermore, I’m pretty sure the developer of the site wouldn’t exactly want a giant construction site right next to their recently opened hotel during the first few years after it’s completed.

Steven Joyce on the CRL in Parliament

Julie Anne Genter questioned Steven Joyce in Parliament today about the City Rail Link. Perhaps the most laughable comment is when Joyce claims they are speeding up the project, not slowing it down. If they were speeding it up then at the very least they would be looking to have it started at the same time the council is wanting for it to happen.

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.