Before Auckland’s proposed Unitary Plan, Browns Bay was classed as a low rise, suburban seaside suburb that only allowed buildings to be a maximum height of 12.5 metres – meaning apartments were few and far between.
But with the plan, buildings are permitted to be up to eight storeys high, which JLL says is increasing the number of apartment complexes in the pipeline.
This will have a flow-on effect to retail, says JLL retail sales and leasing specialist for the North Shore region JJ Hong.
She says people living in apartments rely on shops around them for day-to-day living and these include high street retail.
“Apartment dwellers tend to eat out more, do smaller grocery shops and spend more on entertainment: bars, nightlife etc,” Hong says.
“We expect mainly convenience and service-based retail in the Browns Bay area will likely benefit, such as the Browns Bay retail development, developed by Aubrey Edwards and leased by the JJ retail team on Anzac Avenue which currently provides a childcare centre, gymnasium, butcher and chiropractor.”
Up to 229 residential dwellings could be added a result of new apartments going in.
As a result, the Browns Bay population is predicted to increase by 38 percent by 2043.
The increase in population means retail demand will increase, which will be welcome news for locals.
The opening of Westfield Albany in 2007 saw the decimation of retail shops in both Browns Bay and neighbouring suburb Mairangi Bay.
What was once a bustling retail suburb became oversaturated with $2 shops and cafes as retail stores abandoned the suburb in favour of big-ticket retail centres.
One of the biggest hits to the area was the Farmers store closing in 2014, as it removed another drawcard for local shoppers.
The My Generation music store, down the road from Farmers, directly attributed Farmers’ closure to the drying-up of foot traffic following its exit. As well as this, local stores such as Calypso, Jean Jones, Art and Soul and Just In Clothing Co have also closed down.
But the opening of a brand new, glitzy New World supermarket earlier this year, as well a complex alongside it featuring the likes of Tank and Muffin Break, has provided a much-needed boost to the area.
This combined with a local population increase due to the apartment building boom, may help revitalise Browns Bay retail.
Hong says with the new Unitary Plan, developers have the option to build apartments in the heart of Browns Bay near the shops on Bute Rd.
The Bute Rd apartments
“These will have fantastic sea views over Browns Bay. We have seen this succeed in other areas around the bays in Auckland, such as Mission Bay and St Heliers for example,” Hong says.
“The end result will change the face of Browns Bay retail from banal to a much more vibrant retail offering.”
JLL predicts retail will trend towards hospitality, food retailing and artisan food offerings, as well as independent retailers.