Published 11 November 2005
Auckland City Council voted on Thursday night to proceed with the mayor’s Outside the square project, investigating schemes which could cost $700 million to change Aotea Square & its surrounds.
It all began when the roof over the underground Civic carpark leaked. The council had been looking at some projects in the area and decided to incorporate them with the more urgently needed repairs.
The bill for that quickly totted up to $73 million.
The grander vision for Aotea came with work by an advisory group brought in by the mayor, Dick Hubbard, in August. Among their proposals was to shift the city library from Lorne St to the Aotea Square area.
This idea drew the most debate at the specially arranged council meeting â€“ which the mayor said, in hindsight, wasn’t really so urgent. The earliest start date for the key project, fixing the carpark roof, is July 2007.
Councillors supported further investigation on a project which doesn’t have precise costs attached to it and still has a long way to go before the shape of development is decided.
Cllr Richard Northey tried to get references to the library removed from the project but his recommendation was defeated 10-8. In an unusual display of bipartisan behaviour, the council supported Citizens & Ratepayers Now leader Scott Milne’s suggestion that council staff start exploring options for the possible involvement of the private sector, including public private partnerships & boot schemes.
While the overall project ostensibly has a high cost, various projects which could be done by the private sector would reduce the public cost. One part of the project, redeveloping the South Town Hall area (up Queen St from the town Hall to Mayoral Drive, and including vacant land behind the old buildings there) into a cultural precinct was already being planned in the council’s Aotea Quarter project.
The advisory group also came up with ideas of creating a pedestrian boulevard on Mayoral Drive, while still allowing traffic on it, wrapping the Aotea Centre in an iconic structure that could be built as a convention centre or offices, adding 1800 parking spaces underground, creating a multi-use underground street from west Bledisloe to Greys Avenue and coming up with a more appealing design for the side of the SkyCity Metro entertainment centre facing Aotea Square.
The council endorsed all the proposed design principles, including the underground street. A decision about which carpark roof option is pursued will await decisions on other aspects.
11 April 2005: Aotea Quarter plan approved
11 April 2005: Success at Aotea Quarter no easy run
27 February 2005: Khartoum Pl upgrade designs wanted
11 December 2004: $4.5 million Lorne St revamp approved
2 July 2004: Aotea Quarter maps
1 July 2004: Aotea Quarter cultural precinct plan endorsed
1 July 2004: Plans to revamp Lorne Street area out for comment