Wharf plans uninspiring, says Lee
A PROPOSAL to convert two tin sheds on Queens Wharf into a venue for the Rugby World Cup has been called uninspiring by one of the major players.
Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee says the idea of upgrading the 97-yearold sheds is an “underwhelming concept”.
“It would not serve our objectives in buying the wharf, which is to create a fit-for-purpose cruise ship terminal.”
He says current facilities for the city’s increasing number of cruise ship passengers are appalling and visitors deserve better.
Mr Lee wants to see the sheds gone and replaced with an elegant structure involving glass to make it light and airy.
The regional council and the government each put in $20 million to buy the wharf and the Auckland City Council has approved $84m to redevelop it.
Auckland City Council’s city development general manager John Duthie says the buildings have great timber, lattice work and trusses, even though the outsides have deteriorated.
“You’ve got to envision what you can do with the buildings rather than what they are now.
“It’s a real opportunity to make a significant transformation,” he says.
Mr Duthie says the development will be “uniquely Auckland”.
It will bring down the red fence surrounding the port and let people down to the waterfront, he says.
Mr Lee says the first objective is to get the cars, bananas and tropical fruit off the wharf where they are stored and open it up to the public by next April.
The first stage of the city council’s project is targeted at providing what Prime Minister John Key described as “party central” for people to watch the world cup games in an atmosphere similar to what they would experience at Eden Park.
There are a number of things that will have to be done before the wharf can host partygoers, including upgrading the structure at an estimated cost of between $4m and $7m.
Earthquake strengthening could cost $11m and upgrading the sheds may cost up to $14m, depending on what is done to them.
Another $2.5m will be needed for the surrounding infrastructure, depending on what is done to the wharf surface.
It has a split level deck which Mr Duthie says may need to be levelled and the surface redoing.
A safety rail will be put up to prevent people falling.
He says the $84m approved by the city council is the top end of the price.
“Hopefully we won’t have to do a seismic upgrade of the wharf. It depends on the level of amenity and the quality provided.”
There is also the potential to use part of one of the sheds as a cruise ship terminal.
He says resource consent would need to be obtained but the council would be largely working with the existing wharf and sheds.
“I don’t believe there would be insurmountable resource consent issues.”
After the world cup, Mr Duthie says the vision is to build a legacy for the city and a significant asset.
New Zealand designers will be asked for expressions of interest into the future of the development.
Ports of Auckland managing director Jens Madsen says the short-term development of the wharf is not for the organisation to decide.
“Ports of Auckland will continue to work closely with the various stakeholders to support their planning until we vacate the wharf in April 2010.”
Mr Madsen says developing a new primary cruise ship terminal on the wharf is very important.