Viaduct shakes off han­gover

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - JACK­SON THOMAS

Auck­land’s Viaduct is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a resur­gence as busi­nesses hold their breath in hope of Team New Zealand bring­ing the Auld Mug back.

Dave Gunn, gen­eral man­ager of restau­rant De­gree Gas­tro­bar, said Viaduct busi­nesses of­ten shared sto­ries of ‘‘the glory days’’, when the Amer­ica’s Cup was New Zealand’s Cup and the Viaduct was a boom­ing hos­pi­tal­ity and tourist precinct.

‘‘There would be morn­ing de­liv­er­ies ar­riv­ing while peo­ple were still at the bar drink­ing, it was just a mad time, great for all the busi­nesses,’’ Gunn said.

In 2000 and 2003, when New Zealand held the Amer­ica’s Cup, it was heady times on Auck­land’s wa­ter­front as the masses gath­ered to join in on the ac­tion.

But af­ter Alinghi won the 2003 Amer­ica’s Cup and rac­ing moved to Spain, the Viaduct lost some of its spark.

Now in­vest­ment is be­ing poured back into the Viaduct, with a new restau­rant by celebrity chef Si­mon Gault open­ing, a rooftop cocktail bar by the op­er­a­tors of Pon­sonby’s Mea Culpa open­ing and two five-star ho­tels be­ing built.

Con­struc­tion on a $200 mil­lion five-star Park Hy­att ho­tel at Auck­land’s Wyn­yard Quar­ter started last year. An­other 165-room ho­tel is planned for the for­mer Simu­ni­voch Fish­eries site.

Res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment 132 Halsey, fea­tur­ing 51 lux­ury apart­ments with views over­look­ing the Viaduct Har­bour, is also be­ing built in the Viaduct.

On Queen’s Birth­day week­end, a strik­ing light­ing in­stal­la­tion was also un­veiled in the Viaduct.

Gunn said there were sto­ries from 2003 of lo­cal bars and res­tau­rants hav­ing to carry rub­bish bags full of cash back to their cars af­ter clos­ing.

‘‘The Viaduct had be­come the jewel in New Zealand’s crown and ev­ery­where was just buzzing. An­other cup win would be mas­sive.’’

In the eight years New Zealand held the cup it brought more than $1 bil­lion into the na­tional econ­omy.

Soul Bar and Bistro owner Ju­dith Tabron, who has op­er­ated in the Viaduct for 16 years, hoped the Amer­ica’s Cup re­turned to the Viaduct.

‘‘Af­ter 2003 no­body knew whether this area would sur­vive but here we are,’’ Tabron said.

‘‘If the cup were to re­turn I think you would start to see some real spend­ing on in­fra­struc­ture.’’


Crowds cheer Team New Zealand as they leave the Viaduct dur­ing the 2003 Amer­ica’s Cup.

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