Admittedly, it’s already a pain in the backside to those working in Auckland’s bustling CBD if you travel to and from work in a car. Parking prices are as high as anywhere else in the country, and at times can even be a challenge to find.
Now, one of the biggest car parks in the CBD is on the market with nothing preventing its future owners from levelling it and denying parking for thousands of Aucklanders.
The building in question is the large Downtown Car Park on Customs Street near the Auckland viaduct, which currently offers 1944 parking spaces. Formerly owned by the Auckland Council, the car park is now up for sale.
In a meeting amongst councillors last week, proposed protections that would mean the new owners of the property would have to provide 400 to 700 parking spaces on the land for short-stay usage was voted down, 13 votes to seven, according to reports.
The recommendation had been made by Auckland Transport and a selection of consultants. In it, AT says that the private market “is not interested” in providing parking for Aucklanders, adding fuel to the view that the block is destined to become something other than parking.
“In the city centre AT provides short stay parking, something which the private market is not interested in providing. Providing this, and at an affordable rate, is an important equity consideration for many Aucklanders, ensuring the city centre is a place for everyone,” said AT.
The decision is set to remove a huge chunk of the available parking spaces in the CBD. According to Heart of the City, 143,767 people work in the CBD, and 43,000 university students study in the CBD. The hope is that a greater percentage of these people will use public transport to travel to the city centre.
The Auckland Council has issued its own release about the news, labelling it an “exciting step for the city centre”. It says that the new project to be built on the site must include a bus facility and an “accessibly multimodal transport hub” to support cyclists and e-scooter users.
“Auckland Council’s Planning Committee has approved the transport outcomes for the redevelopment of the Downtown Car Park site, which alongside the urban regeneration outcomes agreed last year, will deliver a high quality, mixed-use development that includes future-focused transport facilities,” it said.
“With the strategic outcomes for the site agreed, it can be taken to a competitive market process to find a development partner that can help deliver the vision of a harbour edge stitch that unites the city centre and waterfront, as outlined in the City Centre Masterplan.”
On car park allocation, the Auckland Council release says there is “no specification on the number of short stay car parks,” meaning it’s possible that the development won’t support cars at all. “Proposals [will] include details of the car parking required to meet the objectives of the development and any additional public short stay car parking they propose to provide,” it adds.
“This project will build on this transformational energy. It will revitalise a currently tired area and create a world-class, environmentally attractive urban space that will become a magnet for business and investment and a thriving place to live, work, visit and shop,” said Auckland mayor Phil Goff.
“This will complete a major section of the City Centre Laneway circuit, strengthening its connections with the harbour edge stitch. It also supports the shift to sustainable transport modes, which has long been a key part of the City Centre Masterplan.
“Redevelopment of the Downtown Car Park has been in our City Centre Masterplan since 2012. I look forward to this process progressing to find the best way forward to meet both our urban development and transport outcomes.”