Inside NZ's tallest tower: restaurants, stunning views ... and Zara and Uniqlo?

1:02 PM Friday December 11, 2015 Anne Gibson

Commercial Bay - the new 39-level tower to be built in downtown Auckland.

• NZ's most expensive office tower to be called Commercial Bay
• Developer hopes to bring in high-profile clothing retailer
• It will have two new huge restaurants overlooking waterfront
• "It's the most transformational project Auckland CBD has ever seen"

Final details and a name for downtown Auckland's biggest new commercial property development have just been unveiled.

It's been described as "the most transformational project Auckland CBD has ever seen" by its developer, who is vowing to bring big new global retailers here and enhance the city's shopping.

Scott Pritchard, Precinct Properties' chief executive, has just announced development of New Zealand's tallest, most expensive new office tower, confirming the company will proceed with a 39-level $681 million downtown building on Auckland's waterfront.

A new Auckland precinct has also been revealed, to be called Commercial Bay as a nod to the city's history in the waterfront area where Precinct will have $1.5 billion of properties once the new tower is up.

Pritchard also announced two huge restaurants with alfresco dining above Quay St overlooking the waterfront, 105 new shops 

spread across three levels and a flagship international clothing retailer not already in New Zealand. He named as potential candidates Zara, Uniqlo, H&M - already coming to Sylvia Park - or TopShop, already in the CBD but further up Queen St.

Pritchard said the building contract had been awarded to Fletcher Construction, site works will start next June, the Commercial Bay retail centre is scheduled to be open by October, 2018 and the office tower by mid-2019.

The development is on the Downtown site, spanning Lower Albert St, Quay St, Lower Queen St and Customs St West.

PwC will shift from the landlord's neighbouring Quay St tower into the new block and Pritchard said Precinct was talking "to a range of people" in the retail sector.

cbay2.jpg

Commercial Bay - the new 39-level tower to be built in downtown Auckland.

Fletcher will demolish the existing low-rise Downtown and excavate to enable City Rail Link tunnels to be built, linking the Britomart beneath the former Chief Post Office to Lower Queen St. CRL will then proceed up Albert St as the first stage of that huge transport project, then across to Mt Eden.

Pritchard said the development would change the city.

"We are very excited about this development," he said in an NZX announcement. "We believe Commercial Bay is the most transformational project Auckland's CBD has ever seen. It completely reshapes the waterfront area bounded by Britomart, the Viaduct and the CBD. "

"The retail at Commercial Bay will be a laneway environment with around 100 shops including international and domestic fashion outlets plus a number of restaurants, cafes and bars making the most of the unique waterfront location. The office tower will transform the city skyline but most importantly has been designed form the inside out to create a world-class working environment for its occupiers."

Queen St is becoming a retail destination again, evidenced by low vacancy rates, high rental growth driven by strong retailer interest including new international entrants, he said.

COMMERCIAL BAY TOWER
• 39-level block, 3.9ha of floorspace
•1300sq m lobby, 1400sq m sky terrace on level 7
•278 carparks across 3 basement levels
•PwC to move in above level 22
•6m wide east-west laneway That will link Lower Queen St to Lower Albert St
[Source: Precinct Properties]

The growth in luxury orientated tourists and a high pedestrian foot traffic has added to the CBD's retail growth.

Asked about the controversial deal for Precinct to buy Queen Elizabeth Square to increase its footprint in the area, Pritchard said the area would be much improved.

"Lower Queen St is pedestrianised. The buses will be gone. This is one of the best moves. People need to see this to understand where we're heading. It restores what was here in the early 1900s - the retail edge to Lower Queen St, rather than QE Square which has had very mixed views about how successful it has been," Pritchard told the Herald this morning.

The new building was designed by Warren & Mahoney and Pritchard said its Blair Johnston had been "outstanding", along with Woods Bagot of San Francisco and Melbourne's NH Architecture.