Auckland CBD’s retail revitalisation continues with Commercial Bay

  • Property
  • December 15, 2015
  • Elly Strang
Auckland CBD’s retail revitalisation continues with Commercial Bay

The centre has been named ‘Commercial Bay’ which originates from the 1800s, as it’s what the area was called when it was first established as Auckland’s trading hub.

The development will be home to what Precinct Properties says is a world class retail destination, with a laneway environment spread over three levels and 130 metres of Queen St retail.

Retail frontage will also face onto Albert St, Quay St and Customs St.

The company expects around 100 new stores to open, alongside various restaurants, cafes and bars.

PwC will be the anchor tenant for the tower.

Precinct Properties chief executive Scott Pritchard says the new tower will completely reshape the waterfront area surrounding Britomart, the Viaduct and the CBD.

He says Auckland CBD is undergoing a renaissance, with a high number of international brands that have opened or plan on opening shops.

Topshop, Hugo Boss, Nespresso, Prada, Elizabeth Arden, Dior and Gucci have all opened stores, while others are slated for 2016, including R.M. Williams, Tiffany & Co. and Chanel.

“In addition, new entrant brands such as H&M and David Jones have announced plans for future New Zealand stores,” Pritchard says. “We see this as a great vote of confidence for retailing in the CBD of New Zealand’s largest city.”

The move to open a large-scale retail centre in the CBD comes at a great time, considering there’s low vacancies for both local brands and international brands that want a presence in the CBD.

Pritchard said there was a possibility to expand the luxury brand precinct on Lower Queen St onto Commercial Bay’s Queen St frontage.

However, he said the tower’s retail is pitched predominantly at food and fashion retail to serve the CBD’s wide and varying demographics, including tourists, workers and students.

Research shows the local populations of CBD workers, residents and students will be a very strong customer market, he says, although tourists will also form a key part of the overall customer base.

“This diverse trade area sets Commercial Bay apart from the other suburban regional shopping centres,” he said.

Retail leasing recently got underway, with negotiations advancing for a number of flagship stores.

Pritchard stayed coy on which potential internationals might move into the tower. However, the rumour mill has mentioned Zara, H&M, Topshop and Uniqlo.

Zara and H&M are very real possibilities, considering both brands have confirmed they will be opening stores at Sylvia Park in 2016.

Big retailers like those two brands will look to open up more stores and expand their critical mass, First Retail managing director Chris Wilkinson told The Register earlier this year.

“You can’t just put one store in New Zealand because it’s quite hard to run and quite hard to provision for, you really do need a number of stores to make this worthwhile.”

The demolition of the existing Downtown Shopping Centre will begin in June 2016, with the Commercial Bay retail centre expected to open by October 2018.

By the numbers

Potential customers:
- 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

​ ​

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