Rezoning of Queen Elizabeth square

Precinct purchase paves way for its Commercial Bay development

Precinct purchase paves way for its Commercial Bay development

Precinct purchase paves way for its Commercial Bay development. But a challenge from Auckland Architectural Association constitutes an impediment.

Auckland Council has approved the rezoning of the city’s Queen Elizabeth Square.

Precinct Property Group said the council publicly notified the approval of rezoning by the independent commissioners appointed to consider the request.

Precinct agreed to a $27.2 million conditional purchase of the 1900qm site in February last year as part of a deal with the council to enable the construction of the City Rail Link.

However the privatisation of Queen Elizabeth Square for a commercial development is being challenged by the Auckland Architectural Association. The association is objecting to a wall of building 19 metres high along the length of Lower Queen Street that will downgrade it to a shady and windy canyon, according to the association.

The association lodged an appeal in the Environmental Court at the beginning of March to put a stop to the square’s public open space zoning that effectively paves the way to it being purchased by Precinct Properties from council, which has already been agreed upon.

The site is adjacent to Precinct’s Zurich House, HSBC House and the Downtown Shopping Centre.

As part of the deal Auckland Transport will pay Precinct $9 million compensation for loss of its land due to the construction of rail tunnels, and a further $10.7 million reflecting the additional costs of constructing its planned office tower due to the City Rail Link tunnels.

The site is envisaged as a part of Precinct’s planned $681 million Commercial Bay development in downtown Auckland. The development will encompass Precinct’s four buildings in the surrounding area – PwC Tower, AMP Centre, HSBC House and Zurich House – and will be worth about $1.5 billion on completion, representing 63% of the property investor’s portfolio.

Fletcher Building has been hired for the Commercial Bay development, with work expected to start in June this year, including construction of tunnels under the precinct for the city’s rail link.

The retail centre is scheduled to open by October 2018, with the office tower completed by mid-2019. The company’s Auckland Wynyard and Commercial Bay developments will increase its gearing to about 35% from 12.5% at present.