Auckland City Council owns five parking buildings within the Auckland CBD – Fanshawe Street, Downtown, Victoria Street, Civic and Karangahape Road. All up, these parking buildings provide quite a few thousand spaces in the CBD. I must say I have always found it rather strange that Council does own car parking buildings – as after all does it not contradict with others plans and strategies they have to minimise the number of people driving themselves into the CBD?

While I certainly am not generally an advocate for councils selling off their assets, I wonder whether there are good grounds for an exception to be made here. Is it perhaps a bit of a conflict of interest for council to retain its parking buildings? Another interesting issue to look at is the value of the various car-parking buildings owned by council. The ARC’s “Region Viewer” website has some very interesting information on property valuations, and gives us an insight into what Auckland City Council could potentially make if it sold its parking buildings.

I get the following valuations of the parking buildings:

  1. Fanshawe Street: $15.6 million
  2. Downtown: $68.5 million (see image below)
  3. Victoria Street: $40.4 million (see image below)
  4. Civic (can’t really be separated from the Aotea Centre above it, so wouldn’t bother)
  5. Karangahape Road: $9.1 million

Here’s an image of the Downtown carpark, showing the valuation: And Victoria Street: That’s $133.6 million all up. You could buy back a pretty big chunk of Auckland’s buses for that price.

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  1. Wow we’ve been saying this for a while now… Those values just make it even more imperative… I say knock em down and develop em first, the profits of that could surely buy back Stagecoach…

  2. To see them sold off immediately after, when the next Council is on a selling off trip to dispose of “unprofitable, subsidy-guzzling enterprises”… then we’d be left with neither car parks OR buses.

    BTW: I believe the fact that Council has their own car parks stems from the fact that in the 50s, they started seeing everyone disappearing to shop in the suburbs, so there was a big push from inner-city retailers to have Council combat that by providing car parking.

  3. From reading a few of the 1950s transportation plans it seems that council was pretty desperate to provide parking for the inevitable (in their opinion) increases in traffic flows. I guess the concept of inducing demand was unheard of then, just as it is now, amongst most transportation engineers.

  4. Any idea if they are currently making money, if so then why not keep them and use the proceeds to help pay for PT. If they were to get sold we would just see the profits going to a company who will do anything possible to keep people driving to town.

    In that vein I think they should keep them, In the future they can be developed making more money for the council and in the interim they could be used by the council to implement strategies to reduce car use i.e. limiting available carparks at certain periods etc.

  5. I think they probably do make money. Under the new Super-City structure I think these buildings get transfered to Auckland Transport – which might mean that profits from the parking buildings really would get reinvested in public transport, so perhaps that would be a good outcome.

    I suppose that it just seems like a rather strange conflict of interest to have council encouraging people to drive into the CBD by providing the parking spaces while at the same time having other strategies that try to reduce the number of people driving into the CBD. Perhaps Jeremy’s idea – where you don’t just sell them off as carparks but instead redevelop them into offices or apartments, would make the most sense.

  6. Council owning and running the car parks could be used for a positive transport outcome. But it’s a pretty big could. Parking policy and pricing is a pretty effective TDM measure. If for instance the Council stopped rewarding people for traveling during the peak (i.e. “early bird” specials) and started making it cheaper for people to arrive off peak (maybe 6:30am – 7:30am and 9:00am – 10:00am) they might have an impact on travel patterns and help to peak spread (at the very least it can’t hurt…). Maybe give those that arrive between 7:30am and 9:00am a free bus or train ticket to go with their $25 dollar a day parking! Anyhoo, just a thought. Don’t rush to sell of assets just cause they ain’t being used properly!

  7. I think it would be great if the council redeveloped them as residential (with maybe some business at the bottom). They could keep a certain percentage (e.g, 40%) as affordable housing that was owned by the council but on 75 year leases or something. And they could actually try to make them places people (and families) might enjoy living (e.g., they could have communal gardens at base/on roof and be well lit and well insulated and such like)

  8. “I guess the concept of inducing demand was unheard of then, just as it is now, amongst most transportation engineers.”

    Jarbury, you miss my point. They WANTED to induce that demand. They WANTED people to drive into the city.

  9. If it is a choice between some affordable housing Lucy or the council buying back Stagecoach… I know which will benefit the most lower income people and I would choose everyday of the week and twice on Sundays…

    With that said I know Len Brown has stated he wants to expand council housing, might be a good idea to e-mail through to him…

  10. I say sell them.

    At the very least there will be no implicit subsidy for drivers if the council happens to be charging at below market rates. It would be interesting to know the return on capital invested in those buildings.

    Why would there be an implicit subsidy? Well the council might be reluctant to raise charges if it is a vote loser.

    Regarding R.Lin’s point – it is a good idea, but may not work in the long run in a competitive parking market. Better to bring in comprehensive road pricing. Surely the technology will be available and practical within a few years, especially once the Netherlands scheme is up and running to learn from.

  11. Clamping down on CBD parking availability, is one measure I know is *guaranteed* to promote public transport use.

    Trouble is, parking availability is now a regional issue, which suggests that this problem now has to be dealt with on a regional basis. Otherwise, you will get a further draining of jobs out of the central city.

  12. I agree one needs to be careful about looking at the CBD in isolation. It is already fairly fragile, with only 12% of the region’s employment.

    Thanks to the good work of Julie Anne Genter and others, it does seem as though councils are waking up to the importance of parking policy. It’ll be interesting to see how it filters into next generation District Plans.

  13. $133 million wasted in parking buildings by the Auckland City Council is outragous. Why should ratepayers have to have that sort of money tied up in monstrosities that promote traffic jams? I would rather see that money put to use building more rail lines, busways or buying NZ Bus busses back for the greater good of all the community.

  14. Wellington City Council sold off its parking buildings a few years ago. And good thing too. It was easier to sell them off and have the new owners charge market rates for parking than try and get the city Councillors to raise parking prices. Councillors don’t like being seen to increase parking rates. Seems to have worked out well.

  15. In my experience private parking is generally used as a way of generating revenue from land that is being held for further development and/or speculation. It’s a way of minimising losses on an otherwise unproductive asset. If the council was to remove their subsidies the private prices would in all likelihood increase substantially.

  16. I hadn’t thought about that… Yes they could be undermining the subsidies they spend on PT by distorting the CBD “parking market” and making prices lower…

  17. Certainly Matt, just look at what happened when Council tried to extend pay & display parking from 6pm to 10pm. A perfectly reasonable idea, to try and stop apartment owners from eating up all the spaces, and what was the response? Everyone went nuts and council backed down quickly.

    Maybe that could be an advantage of Auckland Transport being completely unaccountable… they’ll be able to put up parking prices easily!

  18. “You can get a park in Vic Park for $99 a month… Doesn’t seem like a good return on capital to me…”

    Better than 0$ per month for the owner. Vacancy rates in CBD office buildings are high right now. So redeveloping old sites isn’t actually a very busy industry at the moment.

  19. I think they should spin off the carparking business as a CCO which is required to make a profit of xx% and generate a certain rate of return on the property. Perhaps in this way, the council could be seen to not be taking a direct hand in any price rises and who can argue with the council trying to make a fair return on property it owns. Of course this needs to go hand in hand with work on car parking maximums throughout Auckland so as to prevent private developers luring people to surburban malls. What I would really like to see is the street edges of these buildings being enlivened, case in point the Victoria St building. This is in an area of town with extremely high foot traffic and yet it presents a ghastly face to the street on all 3 sides. If we are going to continue to own them then some of the money should be fed back into making them somewhat nicer at street level. We could start by removing the car park exit from Lorne street and removing the left hand lane on Victoria street which is just for cars entering the carpark – use that to widen the street. Another issue I have with them is their lack of bicycle parking – how about the council removes 20 parks and converts them all to undercover secure bike parking – would be cheap and would be easy since the own the buildings.

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