Vic­to­ria Park goes up­mar­ket

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

TOURISTS look­ing to spend a quick buck at stalls filled with knick­knacks will be out of luck as Vic­to­ria Park Mar­ket smartens up its act.

De­vel­op­ers are keen to es­tab­lish the precinct as a hos­pi­tal­ity and bou­tique shop­ping des­ti­na­tion, dis­tanc­ing it­self from its mar­ket moniker.

The site was built in 1905 as a waste de­pot and incin­er­a­tor com­plex be­fore be­ing trans­formed into a re­tail mar­ket in 1983 af­ter pub­lic out­cry at plans to de­mol­ish it.

It was bought by the Kitch­ener Group in 2003 and con­tin­ued to op­er­ate as a mar­ket un­til a $28 mil­lion re­fur­bish­ment be­gan in 2008.

Welling­ton tourist Deb Mills was sur­prised to find the site with­out its pre­vi­ous arts, crafts and sou­venir stalls when she vis­ited last week.

‘‘I came here 10 years ago and it was great so we thought we would come down here for an­other look. What they’ve done looks lovely but it’s not quite what we were look­ing for,’’ she says.

‘‘I’m sure it will be good when more things open up.’’

Vic­to­ria Park Mar­ket man­ager Shel­ley Mitchell says the new com­plex is more in keep­ing with how the sur­round­ing sub­urbs have de­vel­oped.

‘‘The whole area has changed, it’s quite a high decile, high in­come area,’’ she says.

‘‘We want to bring the area up and make it vi­brant like it was in the 80s and 90s with just a whole new crowd com­ing in.’’

Along with restau­rants, bars, cafes, bou­tique shops and a nail bar, plans are un­der way to open up a Euro­pean-style mar­ket by the end of Novem­ber.

‘‘When you come down here it’s an ex­pe­ri­ence for you. You get to mooch around do some shop­ping and then head up to the bars for a glass of wine,’’ Ms Mitchell says.

But she ad­mits the precinct’s change of di­rec­tion has been tough on some of its pre­vi­ous ten­ants.

Those who had lease agree­ments be­fore the de­vel­op­ments have ei­ther cho­sen to leave as it no longer suited them or are mov­ing po­si­tion within the site it­self, she says.

‘‘We’ve got six good an­chor ten­ants and we’ve got some re­ally good ten­an­cies open­ing in terms of turn­ing this into a des­ti­na­tion area.’’

Oc­cu­pancy is cur­rently sit­ting at about 68 per cent, lower than they would like to be at this time, she says.

‘‘We thought we’d be a lit­tle bit fur­ther ahead but that’s be­cause our con­struc­tion was de­layed by 18 months and that was be­cause of her­itage is­sues.’’

This has had knock-on ef­fects on cur­rent ten­ants with lim­ited foot traf­fic mov­ing through the site as peo­ple are un­sure of whether it is now open.

‘‘We are suf­fer­ing a bit un­for­tu­nately with peo­ple say­ing there’s not enough foot traf­fic,’’ Ms Mitchell says.

But it is start­ing to in­crease as more stores open their doors, she says.

‘‘Over­all con­sid­er­ing the de­lays in con­struc­tion we are re­ally happy with what we’ve man­aged to achieve in a try­ing en­vi­ron­ment.’’

Photo: JESS LEE

New di­rec­tion: Vic­to­ria Park Mar­ket man­ager Shel­ley Mitchell says the precinct is try­ing to dis­tance it­self from its mar­ket roots.

Go to auck­land­c­i­ty­har­bournews. co.nz and click on Lat­est Edi­tion to watch a video tour of the rede­vel­op­ment of Vic­to­ria Park Mar­ket.

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