The City Rail Link will be one of the most transformational projects Auckland has ever seen. Perhaps nowhere else will see experience that transformation more than the inner west of the isthmus which effectively gets picked up and moved much closer to the city. As an example, a trip from Kingsland to the middle of town will reliably be less than 10 minutes at any time of the day.

So it’s no surprise then that even just the prospect of the CRL in the future is driving up demand for land in and around the rail network close to the city.

Commercial property on Auckland’s city fringe is already popular with mid-range investors but the planned City Rail Link (CRL) will really open up areas like Newmarket, Grafton, Mt Eden and Kingsland, predicts Nick Hargreaves, Managing Director of JLL.

Hargreaves says there are several forces at play that are making the city fringe suburbs so popular.

“The Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan allows for mixed use zones around urban centres and along high frequency public transport routes – making it easier for a variety of commercial and residential developments in the city fringe.

“In this regard, Auckland Council’s investment in transport will pay dividends for city fringe property owners in future,” Hargreaves says.

“The major improvement to the urban area around Britomart Station, following its opening in 2003, shows how investment in transport can lead redevelopment nearby. It brought new life to what was previously an under-utilised part of the Auckland city centre and attracted large employers like EY and Westpac.

….

Hargreaves says it’s notable that city fringe properties have been keenly sought by commercial property investors with an eye to the future during the past year.

Much of the land near the rail line in the inner west near the rail line and New North Rd is low-rise light industrial and the notified version of the Unitary Plan earmarks that for mixed use which would allow for significant redevelopment of the area. Importantly this land use change isn’t even counted Auckland Transport’s business case which suggested the economic benefits of the CRL will be $2.96 – $3.2 billion (BCR of 1.6-1.7). They did however note that just the redevelopment potential within the CRL designation footprint to be worth an estimated $1.2-1.4 billion.

While on the topic of the CRL, if you’ve been near Britomart recently you would’ve seen that works are well under-way on getting ready for the demolition of the Downtown Shopping Centre and the construction of the CRL tunnels and Commercial Bay development. The various elements from Queen Elizabeth square and Lower Queen St have been progressively removed – the removal of the glass canopy along Queen St has opened up a much better view of the Britomart – and from Sunday the shopping centre will be closed so demolition can get started. The shopping centre website even has a countdown timer to it closing.

AT have also uploaded several new images of what things will look like once the project is completed.

Britomart showing a redeveloped lower Queen St outside Britomart

Britomart Station QE2 Square

On Friday, one of the fences surrounding the works site sprouted some large banners from AT showing some images of what things will look like after the CRL. One that intrigued me and sent me looking for new images on the AT website was this one showing a plan view of the image above (although it seems to be missing the Quay St cycleway).

Britomart Works Banner - QE2 square plan

This one shows what Pitt St will look like after the CRL is finished. It appears that Pitt St will be narrowed down to two lanes with those structures you can see likely to be ventilation for the station. The narrowing of the road by so much is potentially a concern as the New Network for Central Auckland retains the road as the route for many of the buses accessing the city from the west of the CBD. In other words, this could become quite a significant congestion point for these buses. I also still think it’s a huge same and hugely short-sighted that AT are no longer building the entrance at Beresford Square as part of the project.

K Rd Station - Pitt St small

As mentioned at the start, the Mt Eden station is going to see significant development around it, especially as much of the land right next to the station will be used in the project’s construction and able to be developed on after the tunnels are completed.

Mt Eden Station Outside

An idea of the scale of redevelopment possible in the is shown in this image below with the orange buildings the ones within the CRL designation footprint.

Mt Eden TOD

We’ll be seeing a lot of disruption over the next few years as the CRL is built but these are definitely exiting times for the city and even the Herald on Sunday got in behind it all with a fairly positive editorial.

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32 comments

  1. With so much good evidence, Im still baffled how so many people are still against the CRL. Lets hope that this finishes on time without anymore trouble.

    On another note, is Lower Queens St going to be pedestrianised? Are we finally getting a proper QEII square? If thats a yes, it would be a great compliment to Aotea Square further up along Queens St.

  2. That pedestrianised Britomart Square is going to be a great spot. It will be, for all and intents and purposes, the center of Auckland.

    Though a spot of grass for people to sit on would be welcome…..

  3. Now contrast the land use uplift already being experienced here because of investment in Rapid Transit, and contrast that with the previous post on the road only harbour crossing. Motorway interchanges and off ramps destroy place value; Transit stations increase value.

    The proposed road only harbour crossing includes 3-laning Cook St off ramp, and somewhere somehow, by our calculations, some 6 or so new parking structures the scale of the current Downtown one will have to added somewhere in the city to accommodate the thousands of people being incentivised, subsidised to drive their car into the city at the peak from the Shore. If we instead served those people with rail Rapid Transit before adding anymore driving capacity, the city would not need to waste high value space to car storage.

    The exact same value being described above could be experienced not only in the west side of the city but in Takapuna and the whole length of the busway too by building a new faster and more direct rapid transit crossing next. delaying the need for an additional place value destroying motorway expansion for a decade or more.

    1. Supersizing Cook Street — the developers of the apartments in that area are not going to like that thought. That area is already enough of a wasteland as it is now. Living in an apartment is rather unpleasant with a motorway ramp outside.

      1. Massive motorway off ramp. Leading directly, of course, to the gapping maw of Sky City’s new carpark business [oops I mean Convention Centre]. How much more subsidy can this government give to that business? A $6B route to put a certain floor under that project…. good grief.

        Remember that NZTA know that what they are proposing is entirely in conflict with every aim and land use direction in the city:

        “The significant increase in traffic movements conflict with many of the aspirations outlined in current Council policies, strategies, frameworks and master plans.”

        –P 65 Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing Network Plan, NZTA, 2010.

        This project is wantonly and knowingly destructive.

          1. We have ‘koru club corruption’ were the rich and connected arrange ‘you scratch my back and I will scratch yours’ deals. Meanwhile in cattle-class the plebs pass by ignored by the deal makers……

        1. iirc Sky City want a connection to Aotea Station (surprisingly, the Asian developers of the high rise next to it don’t), let’s hope they are asked to contribute to the project (like the owners of Sylvia Park were).

  4. ” I also still think it’s a huge same and hugely short-sighted that AT are no longer building the entrance at Beresford Square as part of the project.”
    I don’t think it’s a shame; I think it is a disgrace.

  5. Hi Matt, great post.
    In your last sentence you wrote “exiting” times, I think you meant exciting times, although the disruption may cause some people to avoid the city centre over the next little while.

    1. I dunno Nigel, if you mean; some people may stop driving in the city centre, then great.

      The City Centre, is, after all, the one area in Auckland that there really are a lot of alternative ways to both access and move with in….

      1. I was thinking in terms of people exiting the city, but if it is traffic that will be exiting the city then that certainly will be great as well as exciting.

        1. There is no evidence of flight from the centre. Nearly every building on lower Albert St is being re-built over the construction years, which is wise, so some firms will have to relocate, and some may move further out, if for no other reason than than the city is suffering from a huge space shortage, but that’s a sign of the reverse of flight….

          1. iirc the Herald on Sunday editorial claimed “office flight” from the west side of Queen St to Wynyard Quarter. As long as the current strong demand for good office space continues, there should be plenty of incentive for building owners to upgrade or redevelop during the CRL build and attract new tenants.

          2. As I said, there are a big number of building owners upgrading their buildings especially along Albert St, 1. in order to take advantage of new demand for quality space in the CBD, and 2. to time the work with the other work in the area. This is not at all like ‘flight’.

          3. I agree with you, Patrick, I think the Herald was missing the point in worrying that those who move won’t come back, because history shows someone else will move into where they were (AC into ASB, AMP into PWC, etc), especially into the new buildings with better PT access.

          4. The herald, or at least Orsman are desperate to show anything the Council are doing is a fail, presumably because it gets column inches…? There is no issue with any tenant choosing to move out of the city centre; they will be immediately be replaced by another who see value in being there… anyway it is hard to see any movement at the moment as other than the usual churn.

  6. Perhaps they’re going to route all the buses down Queen Street & Mayoral instead of Pitt/Vincent?

    Other option would be to go over Hopetoun Bridge but then it disconnects K Rd from the Western buses.

    1. From that image it looks like they are going to dig up more of Victoria Park to finally put those hideous southbound lanes (plus the new ones) underground. At the same time perhaps they will dig up the rest of the park to lay down a few levels of underground carparking, then cover it over with turf and finish it off with the proposed international test cricket ground? That could explain where the cars will go 🙂

        1. You could fit thousands of spaces there and probably only need to go a couple of basements deep. More income/ROI for AT. Burying the viaduct lanes would return the surface to its original park size, uninterrupted by noisy ugly motorway. And when the lawn is relaid on top the soggy issue could be solved. I only see benefits here. Not to mention all the cool historical stuff that would be dug up out of the landfill.

          1. Actually, it would make a loss for AT. If you look at private carparks, they need to charge far more than AT to cover costs, and they don’t bear the economic costs that more driving imposes on the city. You would probably be better to have a bonfire with thee cash.

  7. I’m on a muffin eating binge this week, to use up my loyalty cards at the Downtown Mall’s Muffin Break before it closes.

    1. Yeah, for that to work Aucklanders would have to put down their phones and pay attention to their driving (AKA, not going to happen).

    1. Given that for example 4% of Pukekohe catches the train every day, why should they not be paying for train service improvements?

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