It was the 1800s when the now-sprawling city of Auckland started to take shape in Commercial Bay. The city’s heart began to pump as settlers traded on the muddy foreshore and ships from faraway destinations spilled life into the burgeoning downtown. It hasn’t skipped a beat since.
The area is now home to hundreds of retail and hospitality businesses, 72 of which were housed in the Downtown Shopping Centre until recently.
For 41 years the centre has been an inner-city shopping oasis for the throngs of business people, retail and hospitality workers, commuters, and tourists that give the city its daily rhythm. And with the train station, bus, and ferry terminals all intersecting in the downtown area, there’s no sign of let-up on the horizon.
Thousands of inner-city dwellers frequented the shopping centre daily, be it for a midday morsel or a moment of retail therapy to destress from their busy city lives.
The Downtown Shopping Centre’s demolition will begin this month, following the centre’s closure on May 29. Its replacement, the new Commercial Bay retail centre, is expected to open by October 2016.
Downtown food retailer Sushi Pac says: “Our main customers are office people from around town and the feedback of the closure is pretty negative.” It does recognise the long term benefits for the CBD, however.
The redeveloped Commercial Bay is a $631m, 39 story tower set to transform the Auckland skyline. At the base of the tower will sit a three level, 18,000sqm retail space.
Precinct Property, the NZX listed developers of the site, says it will “redefine retail in Auckland, with global flagship brands, diverse food and beverage and the highest concentration of quality retailers in one central, easily accessible location.”
Retail leasing commenced late last year, with negotiations advancing for a number of flagship stores.
Precinct Property chief executive Scott Pritchard stayed coy on which potential international retailers might move into the space, however there’s rumour of Zara, H&M, and Uniqlo. The presence of these big retailers wouldn’t be unexpected with the recent openings of Prada, Topshop, and Elizabeth Arden on Queen Street.
By the numbers
– Affluent 160,000 main trade area population
– 1.4 million total trade area encapsulates the entire metropolitan Auckland area
– 30,000 CBD office workers within 500 metres and 70,000 in CBD
– Tourists – 200,000 passengers and crew
Predicted mix of retailers:
– 31 percent mini major retailers
– 23 percent food and beverage
– 45 percent specialty retailers
– 1 percent other
Estimated cost of tower:
– $681 million