The O’Connell St shared space is now getting started however relatively quietly many people forget about the other shared space currently being developed in Federal St between Wellesley St and Victoria St. Work has been going on for some months now and so here are some photos I took of the progress about a week ago.

The pavers are down at the southern end of the street although part of that has been blocked off for storage of construction materials and equipment.

Federal St Shared Space March 14

Further North (past the black fence in the image above) you can see the pavers have been completed on one half of the street up to roughly the porte cochere for the casino.

Federal St Shared Space March 14 2

Shared spaces work well in improving the quality of a street for pedestrians but won’t work if those streets are still flooded with cars. As such there are a couple of things that I’m worried about with this shared space. There are underground carpark entrances for Skycity, and the former ASB tower (now owned by council) along with the porte cochere for both Sky City Grand and the casino itself. Here’s the ramps into the Skycity carpark that have the potential to spew traffic onto the street. There’s actually quite a decent amount of space there so I wonder if Skycity could pull out the ramps and activate the street with retail/hospitality.

Federal St Shared Space March 14 3

And where the ramp exits with the corresponding exit from the council building.

Federal St Shared Space March 14 4

The porte cochere to the Skycity Grand Hotel always seemed filled with vehicles. I can see there being issues with people and especially taxi’s using the rest of shared space as a carpark or waiting area.

Federal St Shared Space March 14 5

Overall there’s some good progress that’s been made but there are a number of concerns I have and I guess only time will tell how well it turns out.

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37 comments

  1. I think it will likely be full of cars but the redesign means it will now be normal to walk throughout the street, not just on the tiny footpaths to the side. I don’t think it will ever become a quiet street full of cafes and no cars, but it opens the space up, invites cars and people to intermingle and in general makes it a much nicer feeling street. The state it was in previously was pretty dire. It can only be better than that.

  2. Hard not to see this as largely a public subsidy to the very business that destroyed the place quality here and around an entire city block in the first place.

    This is one Shared Space that I fear will be the source of conflicts and accidents simply because, as Matt points out, it will remain dominated by vehicles.

    Remember the Casino parking hole has its own dedicated entrance from the motorways via Nelson St and exit to Hobson. The Federal St access closing should have been a condition of the work.

  3. The council has indicated that the rest of Federal St will be shared spaces, but should that happen.Federal St between Victoria St and Wyndam St I think doesn’t need to be a shared space, its mainly the backs and sides of buildings although new footpaths and resealed road would be appreciated. Federal St around the ANZ courtyard would be an ideal area to be a shared space.
    Shared spaces are great but they do show up run down footpaths.

  4. IMO the money would have been much better spent tidying up other streets in the area (Vic St West I’m looking at you…)

  5. I love the transport blog but have you never heard of a comma before or have you always written long sentences like this when you write sentences they seem to lose structure when you use no commas like this.

    Back on topic, its really great to see Federal St getting upgraded.

    1. A good solution would be to introduce paragraph roundabouts to more effectively move words through articulated intersections. I would also suggest shared spaces where images, videos, and text can co-exist. This would help the grammar self-manage and there would be less need for police.

  6. I work at SKYCITY, and this street upgrade feels like it’s taking forever, plus the noise and smells coming from the construction are pretty bad.

    From what I understand of the deal, SKYCITY were going to pay for this fully in exchange for another air bridge, but the council rejected this and put up their own (well, ratepayer) money.

    It probably won’t be too clogged with cars, as the cp exit to Federal Street is rarely used, and has been closed off most of the last few months. The entry at the bottom of the street is mostly used by people coming off Nelson Street when the traffic lights permit turning.

    SKYCITY wants to improve the Federal Street ‘experience’ off the numerous bars and restaurants (which they’ve invested millions into) by providing the outdoor seating and the drop-in access from hungry pedestrians. They’d be restricting access to vehicles in the evening to allow for tables, then probably opening it up later again. SKYCITY also has an agreement with Co-Op taxis, who get exclusive use of the area, so taxis wouldn’t be a problem.

    The biggest problem with the shared space will be coaches and buses coming in to drop off tour groups (and there’s dozens of them every day), as they’re very large and noisy.

    1. I am pleased that Sky City now realises the economic value of public realm quality but it is such a shame that the original design is so bad to ALL of its surrounding streets that this remedial work is required. It’s like a reformed place-rapist, having destroyed Federal St it wants to be congratulated for repairing some of it crimes.

      And the answer to the bus problem would be to bring them to a redesigned special entry where the god-awful coach stop is currently on Hobson. Much more efficient than dragging these beasts through a Shared Space- but then would SC want to bring its customers to a back door on one of its many blank faces?

    2. It’s a public road, SkyCity may have a deal with one taxi company but anyone can drive through Federal Street and that includes all taxi companies.

      1. But I guess, like the airport situation – only 1 cab company gets to do the hotel pick up jobs – so that you don’t have a melange of cabs hanging down there waiting for jobs.
        Only the Co-Op ones,

        And then at least the cabs there are, like the buildings already there, “merely” guilty of presenting the same bland monotonous look to the street further making a windy dull place, even duller.

        1. Its fluid, but my preferred cab company can only collect you at the airport if you book them in advance – they say they have no right to wait in line for casual pickups.

          I recall Auckland Airport got feed up with the punch ups and other bad behaviour some time ago and it sold the rights to pick up passengers to the highest bidder some time back. The winner then being from memory, Co-Op taxis.

          Of course that may have changed. But note: while any cab company can drop you off at the airport – pickups – well thats controlled by the airport companies and they all seem to want to sell off the rights to pick up passengers these days.

          In Wellington, so the cabbies told me last week, the taxi ranks are sold off as well – the highest bidder gets the one closest to the airport arrivals area, the next highest the next closest and so on, so if you’re 4th bidder you may as well not bother, and the 4th ranked bidder paid some $800K per annum to Wellington Airport.
          [and they pay the usurious parking fee as well as a taxi user.

          And if you don’t bid (like my preferred Auckland cab company which also operates in Wellington tole me), then they can’t collect without a booking first.

          I expect Skycity did the same with Co-Op for their business.

          Is is anti-competitive? Who knows. perhaps the commerce commission should take a look. Seems so from my perspective.

  7. Anyone know if AC is planning on removing the awning around the ASB building? I’ve only ever found it dark, cold and windy.

  8. I think it is a shame that the current shared streets seems to have not a lot of life along the sides. Just about all of them are at least 50% blanks walls, carparks or otherwise useless walls. Places people go through rather than place people go to.

    On the other hand perhaps this is just how most streets are and I just notice the “wasted: space more in the shared ones.

    1. Well there is a quality of optimism in this policy at least in part; the Shared Space is an encouragement for building owners to knock holes in blank walls, re-purpouse parking garages, and otherwise reorient their properties to take advantage of the increased foot traffic in these car-bruised places. A bit of faith in transformation is required, So far it is working, Fort St is the obvious example of that, although increased carparking on the old Star site is certainly a step backwards, as is the idea that Elliott St should provide the main site access to the new tower project.

    2. Unfortunately aside from Queen Street and a few streets like High Street and O’Connel Street, that’s pretty well what most of innercity Auckland is like. Blank walls and carpark entrances. I think it simply becomes more obvious in the shared spaces because the quality road surfaces clashes with the appalling face that most buildings present to pedestrians. It’ll take a lot to change this, and Auckland Council allowing more carparking buildings to be built on streets such as Fort Street already dominated by them isn’t going to move us in that direction.

  9. Auckland Council as the new owner of the ASB Building should take the opportunity to completely redevelop the street frontage of this 80’s tower block, it would go a long way to turning what is a grey wind tunnel into something hopefully more attractive. Their lack of action on the previous sites however, suggest to me they’ll merely change the sign and be done with it.

    1. There is work being done on the tower now, not sure what the final look will be, by the way the towet was completed in 1991.

      1. From what I’ve read it’s merely the internal fit out, they are installing 200 bicycle parks in basement, so hopefully more council staff will cycle to work and see for themselves the dire state of cycling in Auckland.

  10. Another sea of bland grey pavement. Why can’t they seem to get past their fixation on the colour grey??? There’s a whole world of brick colours out there! Ship all the planners off to Napier for some re-education 🙂

    1. I like the grey: It’s a subtle backdrop. If you want more colour in the shared streets then I’d introduce more trees and street furniture, such as the colour chairs out front of Elliot Stables.

        1. Yes just add Humans or temp stuff
          Definition of Space – an area, room, surface, etc., that is empty or available for use.
          Putting in permanent fixtures means less free available unoccupied space.

    2. Specifically designed that way Geoff, the grey is designed to be simple, wear well and not date. It’s supposed to be a bit bland so that any activity and use can add the colour and interest. If it takes funny coloured bricks to make the place not boring to look at then they have already failed.

      And it would have been landscape architects that picked it, not planners.

    3. Why can’t we have an eye-ball searing Gaudi, or Huntervasser type thing for a change? Put a cat amongst the pigeons and give people something to complain about.

  11. The plan as presented to Council i4 years ago was to delete the vehicle ramp to the underground car park and replace it with several restaurants at street level – at least that was the proposal back then which we signed off. I know of no change in plans since I ceased to be a City Councillor at the end of 2010 but suggest that rather than speculate you should ask Council.

  12. It’s not really shared space. From what it looks like, they are putting in traffic lights at both ends giving a green light for vehicles to run over pedestrians.

    I understand the visually impaired require high constrast cues in absence of a kerb, so perhaps thats a reason behind the grey paving?

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