Viaduct recovers from hangover
‘‘It was just a mad time, great for all the businesses’’
Auckland’s Viaduct is undergoing 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 challenged for and 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, absolutely 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 has been in business on the waterfront for 16 years.
She said business has been tracking upwards in recent times and hoped that another America’s Cup win would bring more people and further development to Auckland’s waterfront.
‘‘After 2003, nobody knew whether this area would survive but here we are,’’ she said.
‘‘If the cup were to return I think you would start to see some real spending on infrastructure.’’