Transforming an entire city centre is no quick and easy task. In 2012 the council adopted the fantastic City Centre Master Plan (CCMP) which laid out the vision for Auckland’s city centre over a 30 year period and identified a huge number of potential projects. The Council’s City Centre Integration Team (CCIG) which is made up of staff from across the wider council family have been tasked with turning that vision in to a reality. As such they are creating frameworks for a number of areas within the city centre which are intended to bridge the gap between the strategies and reality. Almost exactly a year ago we saw the first of these frameworks – The Downtown Framework – emerged looking at the area north of Customs St. Now it’s the turn for the core of the city centre – Aotea.

The area surrounding Aotea Square is home to some of Auckland’s most prominent art, civic and cultural and entertainment buildings – many of which have played a big role in the cities heritage. The map below highlights some of these

Key Destations

The core of the plan seems to focus on the area within the solid red line on the map above the wider framework area looking at how the Aotea Precinct interfaces with the other frameworks that will be developed over time.

One of the big drivers for change over the coming decades will be the huge level of public transport investment that will be going in which will make it easier for significantly more people get to or pass through the area as part of their journey. The key PT projects are highlighted below and Aotea will be one of the best connected locations in Auckland.

Aotea Framework Proposed Transport Investment

In addition to the big transport investments is a recognition of the need to improve walking and cycling connections. Just where those will be are better shown on some of the detail below.

Within the area four general areas have been identified as having development opportunities and all around the edge of the precinct with Mayoral Dr and Albert St. They are shown below

Aotea Framework Development Opportunities

Site A: Aotea Station/West Bledisloe

Once the CRL has been finished this is likely to be one of the hottest pieces of land in Auckland. Currently it’s a carpark for which the entrance combined with the entrance to the Civic Carpark it totals up six lanes of driveway that pedestrians need to cross. As the document correctly says “this prominent site fails to contribute to the public realm quality of the area or the growth node ambitions”.

The framework is proposing two new buildings plus the CRL entrance could go on the site with new lanes between the buildings and alongside the western edge of the Bledisloe building. The document says developing the site could provide up to 28,000m² of lettable space.

Site B: Aotea Centre

This site has already been in the news this week as one of the Council’s CCO’s want to re-clad the building in bronze coloured stainless steel. In addition there is talk of expanding the building itself to provide more studio space and practice rooms. The aspect most interesting to me is the creation of a new pedestrian link direct from the Cook St/Mayoral Dr intersection through the centre and into Aotea Square.

Site C: Civic Administration Building and Surrounds

The Civic building was originally meant to have additional wings on its western and eastern sides but they were never built. That has left a lot of space surrounding the Civic building with potential for development.

Aotea Framework Possible Civic Building redevelopment

Site D: South Town Hall

Ever since Mayoral Dr was ploughed through the area in the 70’s this area has been a carpark. The desire is to better improve connections between Aotea Square and Myers Park so it is proposed to build a courtyard along with a 5-8 storey building. The courtyard will tie in with plans to improve the Mayoral Dr underpass which are expected to be completed mid to late next year. With the courtyard there would be a series of linked public spaces all the way from K Rd though to Victoria St. The council also own the site up to the corner of Mayoral Dr and Queen. They suggest either another building could go there or something else like Spanish-style steps up to Queen St.

Aotea Framework Possible Future Waihorotiu Square

The map below shows the potential development of the area along with some of the new pedestrian/cycle links that have been proposed. Through all of them you can see there is a desire to finally start activating the edge of Mayoral Dr, something that’s long overdue and likely to help in over time making Mayoral Dr less of the mini expressway it acts like.

Aotea Framework Possible Indicative Redevelopment Scenario 2

Consultation on the draft framework is open till 22 October.

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  1. The lighting is going to be so hugely important in the South Town Hall section. If it can be activated like the Chancery Courtyard then it would be a great part of town.

  2. “The aspect most interesting to me is the creation of a new pedestrian link direct from the Cook St/Mayoral Dr intersection through the centre and into Aotea Square.”

    Surprisingly there already is a link but it’s very steep and not well sign posted. I’ve never seen anyone else use it.

    Also what’s a semi-active edge?

    1. Presumably a semi-active edge means just that – there will be SOME activity going on on the ground floor, but it could be offices or similar, not shops or cafes. Which is a good way to proceed our thinking. Not EVERY street frontage needs another couple of (if they are everywhere, cheao, often empty) shops, and not every street will need dozens of cafes like K Road. At the same time, some proper “semi-activation” in this vein would make the area more humanised.

  3. And Queen St. The elephant in the room here; get the lazy drivers out, firm up the pedestrian link across the valley to the St James, Library, Art Gallery.

    Going to be so Transit rich; Metro, LRT, Wellesley St busway. But don’t wait, sort out Queen St now with full time bus priority as we wait for the CRL and LRT.

    1. As a central art & entertainment precinct for greater Auckland, it is going to accentuate access at times outside of peak business. Car services and private cars provide a far greater flexibility ideal for this criteria.

      1. Yes, curious as to how one would be prevented from accessing that precinct just by not being able to drive down queen.

        Mind you, its a typical response. Shut down access to one of many roads accessing the same location and apparently that stops any driving whatsover. Bizarre.

        1. Must be nice to be young and fit able to look at all your friends and see no one who might struggle to walk up a hill. For you it must seem a great idea to stop people dropping off and picking up their friends for a Town Hall show or at the Civic.

          Maybe (if you get a bit older) you’ll develop even a small amount of empathy, until then enjoy the five-a-side football.

          1. But I think you’ll still be allowed to drive on Wellesley Street and Mayoral Drive if you want to pick someone up?

            Anyway, a lot of places are moving to car-free city centres. Not shared streets as we have them in Auckland but proper pedestrian zones. Now that I think about it, Auckland is the only city I know of without a pedestrian-only zone in the centre, but at least there are some shared streets.

            And the reason is simple. Which of these two streets look the most inviting for some shopping? or ?

            So that’s where we’re headed. And yes it will usually mean you have to walk for a short while. But that is also the case now, how often can you park right in front of where you’re going?

            The town where I studied had the first pedestrian-only street 40 years ago. Under loud protest from the shop owners of course, but that stopped very quickly when it turned out their turnover had tripled. It’s time to catch up.

          2. The theatre is 50m from Albert St, even for the most heavily disabled person that isn’t a challenge over flat ground.

            In before accusations of lack of empathy, I spent 6 months on crutches 3 years ago and have two mates in wheelchairs.

          3. The civic carpark has 20 free mobility parking spaces with lift access to the square and direct access to the Town Hall, Aotea Centre and cinemas. There are also 828 other carparks for those that don’t have a mobility card.

    2. Yes extend Aotea Square across Queen St to include the intersection of Wakefield and Rutland, down to Wellesley St and up to Mayoral Drive

    1. It seems awfully wasteful to demolish it. I’m aware there were some ridiculous numbers being quoted to remove the asbestos, but I’m sure that was scaremongering in order to justify selling the building for a dollar to a private developer.

      1. Even if you demolish it, you still have to pull the asbestos material out first. Might as well pull it out and redevelop the building. 🙂

        1. Except you are still stuck with a poor floor plate and noisy lifts in a building that has very poor energy efficiency. In my view it would be better to knock it over and start again before some twit protects it and we are stuck with the thing.

          1. Yes i bet those lifts would be nigh on impossible to replace. Far cheaper to knock the building down and rebuild it. I’m thinking of doing something similar at home. My back door is a bit squeaky so i’m going to take the opportunity to rip out the whole back wall and remodel the house.

          2. Probably much easier just to demolish the whole house and start from scratch, doors can be notoriously difficult to replace when they’re squeaky.

          3. And what would you do Dan C if your house was only one room wide but 18 rooms high, built with a steel frame that was covered with asbestos in all the difficult to reach places and cost you a fortune in running costs. Would you simply replace your back door then or would you pile millions into it and still have a shit house? Perhaps you would only do that if it was millions of other peoples money you were spending, I am guessing you are far to smart to waste your own money.

  4. Too much hard-standing. Think of the opportunities to put in a (smallish) artificial turf… people could have a kickaround at lunchtime, semi-organised five a side, maybe even a game of touch at lunchtime. Or just space to throw a football around

    1. That is a great idea. I wouldnt keep it small either. Could also hire it out after hours on the summer months, for organised 5 a side football or touch comps.

  5. The transit investment makes the council-owned (I presume) carparks prime development spots. Surely an opportunity for the Council to offset CRL infrastructure costs by using revenue from the land use change – with Development Auckland there should be some smart ways to do this (joint ventures etc) – that do better than simply selling off the land to developers…

    As such a major opportunity for the central city couldn’t we get a few more creative options on the table ?
    The Aotea/ Civic precinct has been mired in controversy from the get go with the initial Aotea centre design (1979), construction of the Mayoral Drive roadway , removal of Cook street markets, the Aotea centre renovation (2008) Greys Ave slum clearance (1941), Failed design competitions(2000), The i-max development, The Saint James Fiasco , the what to do with the ex Civic building, The methodist church sell out for low quality apartments. It is a real Auckland story.
    What are the 21st Century possibilities here, including 21st Century processes to make sure any proposals are not just a lip stick on a pig exercise. The core of the “precinct” & proposals remains a space above a carpark and a roadway built to support Aucklands addiction to cars and has never supported quality pedestrian focused urban outcomes. That’s the elephant in the room here. Is it worth retaining a 1970’s screw up for future Auckland ?
    Can’t we use this as an opportunity for a radical rethink starting with that what if question generally unsupported in city politics. What if we could do anything here ? What if there was another international design competition with decent prize money and guarantees of a project that used what if as a brief ? Do you think the current consultants would be retained ? Auckland might even get what it deserves, some innovation.

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