New $550m downtown tower for Auckland unveiled; City Rail Link on track

11:30 AM Wednesday February 25, 2015 Anne Gibson

Artist impression of the waterfront and Quay St central Auckland. Photo / Supplied

NZX giant listed landlord Precinct Properties has announced details of its $550 million Downtown skyscraper for Auckland's CBD and a deal to pay Auckland Council $27.2 million for part of Queen Elizabeth Square.

Scott Pritchard, Precinct chief executive, released the first images of the huge new 36-level glass tower to be built on what is now the Downtown Westfield site between the square, Lower Albert St, Customs St East and Quay St.

The decision means one of the final hurdles to the planned City Rail Link has now been cleared.

Precinct's 1900sq m square purchase is conditional on successful rezoning of the land which includes the road stopping process and a plan change so commercial development on what is now public land can go ahead, Precinct said in an investor presentation released to the NZX this morning.

Read More
• Upside to QE Square sale, says new report
• Auckland Council votes to sell central city square

"Auckland Council will use funds to provide alternate public space," Precinct said, also citing "an agreement with Auckland Council to provide an east-west pedestrian laneway through the Downtown development, linking key transport infrastructure."

Precinct is only buying part of the square - the area where the volcano fire/fountain now stands outside Whitcoulls, between the HSBC Tower and the Zurich block.

Longer-term council plans are to abolish the busy road which now runs through the centre of that square on public land and shift buses further into Britomart and a block west to Lower Albert St.

Precinct aims to begin building its giant glass skyscraper next year and has also struck a deal with Auckland Transport, so tunnels for the City Rail Link are built, ready for that big public project to proceed.

250215SPLPRECINCT.JPG

The planned Precinct office tower on Auckland's waterfront.

Pritchard said the skyscraper's costs have risen 10 per cent from $400 million-$500 million to $550 million due to plans for a larger building as well as construction cost escalations.

Auckland Transport will pay Precinct $9 million compensation for the tunnels' volume and a further $10.7 million for the additional costs of the developer straddling the land with its piles for the enormous tower.

Precinct described that last aspect of the deal as "payment of additional costs of office tower construction due to CRL tunnels $10.7 million."

All that provides Precinct with the ability to proceed with its Downtown tower development and it said it also reduced the CRL costs to Auckland Transport.