To most Aucklanders, 2018 looks a lot like 2017.
House prices have been flat, or have gone down a tiny bit, depending on what data you look at. Rents keep going up. Auckland is still growing, still congested, and still has sub-par public transport.
But there’s some good stuff happening on that front. The New Network is complete, the City Rail Link is coming along, the Eastern Busway is tantalisingly close to starting, and light rail shouldn’t be too far behind.
At the end of 2017, Auckland had more construction underway than ever before. Cranes were up across the city, and site fencing and signage could be seen in every neighbourhood. The flip side is that there aren’t enough workers or materials, and construction has dragged on and on. I’ve been following this for years in the RCG Development Tracker, and almost every project in Auckland is running behind its original schedule.
That said, there certainly are a whole heap of projects! That includes big projects by Housing New Zealand and other government entities – rolling out in Tamaki, Northcote, Papakura, Mangere and Mt Roskill. It’s early days, but these suburbs will grow by thousands of homes in the future.
Just a few years ago, Auckland construction was in the doldrums with the GFC and Canterbury earthquakes pulling resources away. Then it (re)grew rapidly over 2013-2017. 2018 has been flatter, but the trend is still positive.
Overall, the construction industry is building more actual stuff than it ever has before – homes, offices, warehouses, you name it.
As mentioned in February, new homes are increasingly being built in more central areas. 51% of building consents in 2017 were for apartments, terraces and other ‘attached’ housing. That trend has carried on into 2018, and Auckland home consents are now running at record levels – 12,959 in the year to August 2018, with 53% of them ‘attached’ homes.
Almost all consents eventually turn into homes, but it does take time. Consents have topped 10,000 a year for the last three years running, but only 8,000 homes were finished in 2017. My guess is that 10,000 new homes will be completed and ready to occupy in 2018, the highest total for more than a decade. It’s not enough, but it’s a start.
Also good: despite builders being very busy, there are still some great projects starting. The University of Auckland is underway with new halls of residence and engineering and medical buildings; I’ve talked about the spate of new hotels already; a few more apartment buildings have started, and – hold on to your hats, folks – we’re getting some new shops too.
So far in 2018, major expansions at Westfield Newmarket and Sylvia Park have officially started. Smaller expansions are underway at Botany Town Centre and Milford Centre. In the heart of the city, Commercial Bay is well underway. H&M is open already, and at 3,500 square metres it’s as big as a department store. However, I feel it’s my duty to warn other shoppers that it can be a bit of a wait for the bathroom. In fact, you’ll have to wait a whole year until the rest of the centre is open.
Anyway, toilet issues aside, Commercial Bay is right next to Britomart, and will bring together thousands of office workers as well as a major retail offering. Queen St is the top shopping destination in the country, so we can expect big things from Commercial Bay.
The Silverdale Mall opened in March, including a Farmers store and 30-odd smaller stores. By itself, it’s only a fraction of the size of the centres above, but it adds to what is already quite a cluster of shopping at Silverdale. Onwards and upwards for the City of Sales.