Hengyi Pacific, the company planning a 57-level tower in downtown Auckland, has already built two Melbourne super-towers and is well under way with a third. And now it has big plans for its site here. Although many Auckland apartment projects have been cancelled before construction began, Hengyi – one of Australasia’s largest high-rise unit specialists – appears set on going ahead. The $300 million Pacifica project would be New Zealand’s tallest apartment tower. Construction is due to start next month, near Auckland’s waterfront.
Dean Fossey, a Hengyi Pacific director who is based in Melbourne but comes to Auckland every fortnight or so, this month showed what the company has done across the Tasman, and revealed more detail of its Auckland plans. “By March next year you’ll be starting to see the structure rising,” he said. Features of Hengyi’s two existing Melbourne towers give an indication of some of the elements planned for the Auckland boutique hotel/apartment tower, on a site between Commerce St and Gore St, a block from the waterfront in the Britomart area.
Hengyi’s first Melbourne project was The William, an office block conversion of two adjacent buildings – a 23-storey tower on William St and a 21-storey building in Little Bourke St. That has an outdoor pool and a hotel. That was followed by the Light House project on Elizabeth St in the Melbourne CBD. The newly opened 69-level, 607-apartment tower is distinctive for its colour and angular floor plates. It has almost a Rubik’s Cube look, all angles, colours and jutting points, making it stand out strongly on the city skyline. Melbourne developers are not afraid of colour – a big difference to Auckland. Elenberg Fraser were the architects and Multiplex Constructions built it.
And Hengyi is now working on Swanston Central, designed by the same architect, a 72-level, 1039-apartment project nearby at 168 Victoria St in Melbourne’s Carlton neighbourhood. In fact, level 69 of Light House provides a bird’s eye view of Multiplex’s progress on Swanston Central. On the ground floor of his offices on Collins St in Melbourne’s CBD, Fossey has models of The William and Swanston Central. Also based in that office is Hengyi chairwoman and founder Min Wang, originally from China, and director Lu Xing, also originally from China but in Melbourne for more than 20 years. Both had returned this month from a trip to Tibet, where they visited temples and viewed Mt Everest, said Xing, sporting Tibetan wrist beads.
Aged in her late 40s, Wang is said to be a billionaire as a result of developing buildings in China. Her CV shows she has an MBA from Beijing University. Her partner, Liang Chen, is Hengyi president but while she lives in Australia, he remains in China. Hengyi is affiliated with mainland Chinese developer Shandong Hengyi. Other Hengyi Pacific directors are Jeff Wang, Fossey and Hengyi’s boss on the ground in New Zealand, Liz Scott, who is the company’s general manager (NZ). Simon Manley is Hengyi’s development manager.
Fossey said car parking efficiencies were one of the features planned for the big Auckland tower. “We don’t dig a lot of holes,” he said, pointing to just two basement levels at The William and two at Swanston Central. “We’re not big on basement digging.” Stacking systems maximised car parking: at the newly opened Light House, there are just 158 parking spaces over seven levels. “This is how we get away from digging a hole.” Two car parking lifts are planned for The Pacifica, with robotic-style car stackers. Residents will drive into a dock, leaving their vehicle on a turntable. The car will then be remotely moved into place. Fossey said Hengyi had examined high-tech car parking systems in Germany and Singapore. “We just use the [car] lift like a passenger lift. Car dependency in Melbourne has diminished.”
In Auckland, ground works for the project will involve boring for piles and pouring concrete for the foundation. The skyscraper itself will be built of concrete – in contrast to the steel-framed Commercial Bay project, now rising nearby – with a double-glazed glass curtain wall. Exterior balconies will be on the lower levels. “Light House has balconies up to about level 40 but it’s not possible above that. It’s a decision we make project-by-project,” Fossey said. The now-rising Swanston Central will have exterior balconies up to about level 24, he said. “But Pacifica will be on a site more exposed to the water than the Melbourne projects are,” Fossey said. Hengyi’s Melbourne projects are far from the city’s tallest. For example, Multiplex is building Australia 108 in the city’s Southbank area, a residential tower that will be 319m tall, not far short of Auckland’s 328m Sky Tower. That Melbourne super-tower is due to open in 2020, and will have 1105 apartments on 100 levels, says Multiplex. Fossey said Aucklanders had welcomed Hengyi’s arrival and were “more welcoming than Sydney or Brisbane”, where the developer has also looked for work. “Going into Auckland, people are interested in what we’re doing, trying to understand it.”
But will the huge Pacifica project flood the market for apartments? In a study, Colliers International found 1391 new apartment units – including those at Pacifica – in the CBD, 961 on the city fringe and 1443 in suburban areas. Half the units are under construction, but building has not started on the other half. Pete Evans, Colliers’ residential project marketing national director, said next year would see the highest number of Auckland apartments completed in more than a decade – but not enough to meet demand, and only a year’s supply. “In major cities with population growth, we would expect supply to be anywhere between 12 to 24 months. Most apartment projects take two to three years to build, so the current under supply will remain in the foreseeable future,” said Evans. “Auckland’s population growth, and banks restricting funding, is not assisting the needed supply of new apartments.”
Jaw-dropping concepts for an iconic new national stadium have been pitched to Auckland Council, proposing a state-of-the-art arena be submerged into the city’s waterfront. A portfolio of spectacular designs can be revealed from documents delivered to the office of Auckland Mayor Phil Goff last month. The Herald on Sunday has obtained them through the Local Government Official Information and Meeting Act [LGOIMA].
Dubbed The Crater, the idea centres on a subterranean multi-events venue, inverting conventional design by building below ground rather than above. Created by Auckland design and marketing figure Phil O’Reilly, three potentials factor in a core concept of a sunken bowl-type arena, as well as renderings of a roofed version. A third concept incorporates new cruise ship terminals that would flank the facility, although O’Reilly said the general idea could also work inland if the waterfront was dumped as a location.
Communications through Goff’s office, released through the LGOIMA, show O’Reilly submitted the artist impressions to the office of the Mayor on March 15, accompanied by a written proposal. O’Reilly said as far as he is aware, the submerged venue would be the first of its kind anywhere in the world and was a chance for Auckland to build an iconic landmark that would be recognised the world over – but in keeping with Auckland’s natural volcanic landscape. “We always do something derivative that is quite cool but not quite up to it. This is an opportunity to do something that is truly unique,” O’Reilly said.
Although not as large in scale, likely between 30,000-50,000 capacity, O’Reilly said a truly cutting-edge design could see the Kiwi venue punch way above its weight and become as recognised as some of the most famous on Earth. “You’ve got to think outside the box. Why not put it into the harbour?” O’Reilly said his ideas have not been formally costed, but conversations with industry experts have him adamant that digging down is cheaper than building up. “From my discussions, because there is no need to build an above-ground structure, there are no architectural issues – or costs associated to that,” he said. “It would be cheaper to significantly cheaper, and Aucklanders would love that.”
The safety of a stadium sunk into open water is also an obvious concern. But O’Reilly was confident rising sea levels as well as natural disasters could be handled. “I would always compare other infrastructure, particularly like Britomart, that’s a great example that has tens of thousands of people going through it each week and is below sea level,” he said. O’Reilly he’d had no word back from Goff’s office beyond an “automatic reply” to his email.
Communications released under LGOIMA show Goff’s office forwarded O’Reilly’s pitch to Council’s venues arm, Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA), whose chief executive Chris Brooks responded, acknowledging receipt. An initial study has been commissioned by RFA to examine whether Eden Park should be replaced by a new stadium somewhere in downtown Auckland. An RFA spokesman said that report, which is being prepared by global accounting and advisory firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, “should be through to the mayor sometime within in the next 5-6 weeks”.
When asked for comment on The Crater, RFA said it won’t be considering any specific stadium designs or concepts until a strategy is settled. “As we have previously announced, RFA has engaged professional advisers to work with it on a pre-feasibility study to determine the viability of establishing a purpose-built National Football Stadium (NFS) located in the central city,” a spokesman said.
“The pre-feasibility will determine the viability of central city locations and business scope for a potential stadium.” Goff has previously said Auckland could not afford a white elephant, adding the 50,000-seat Eden Park was limited to 21 night events and could need another $250 million spent on it over the next 15 years.
In March last year, rich-lister and Vodafone Warriors owner Eric Watson pledged to invest in a new stadium for downtown Auckland, believing there were “benefits for Auckland”. Watson also revealed he had already approached other potential investors. Talking to the Herald on Sunday, Watson welcomed O’Reilly’s crater concept, as he eagerly awaits the upcoming PwC report. “I understand the PwC Feasibility Study is not far off but in the meantime it’s great to see options for how a waterfront stadium could work,” Watson said. He said he would support a location that “stacks up financially and is ‘the best option’ in terms of a range of factors”.
That included transport and parking options, commercial opportunities, multi-use options of the venue and “visual appearance”. “Ultimately the location and design that ticks as many boxes and meet as many needs as possible will ultimately be the best option for the city. It will be interesting to see what the PwC Feasibility Study recommends.”
The construction boom is seeing an unprecedented number of cranes rise across New Zealand’s cities, according to research released today. The Q2 2017 RLB Crane Index revealed a record 132 cranes towering over New Zealand’s cities, with Auckland alone accounting for 72.
“In Auckland, in particular, strong economic growth driven by high inward migration and increasing tourist numbers, along with solid housing activity, manufacturing and consumer spending, has seen the rock star economy continuing to drive the construction industry, where demand is stretching the current supply,” said Chris Haines, Rider Levett Bucknall’s Auckland Director.
“Auckland continues to dominate New Zealand skies with 72 long-term cranes, 55 per cent of all cranes observed across the seven key centres,” Haines said. “The current index highlights a 13 per cent increase in the number of cranes within the Auckland region since the last count in Q4 2016. Twenty-three new cranes have been erected and 15 have been removed from projects that are nearing completion.” Construction work put in place increased by 20 per cent in the 2016 calendar year, making it the fifth consecutive year of growth.
Auckland is preparing for a new housing boom on the rural fringes of the city that will result in small towns like Warkworth, Pukekohe and Kumeu becoming mini cities. The city’s new Unitary Plan has prompted Auckland Council to lay out a new timetable for greenfield development costing $20 billion and, for the first time, a breakdown of infrastructure problems holding housing back. Today, the council’s planning committee will consider a report to allow for 120,000 new homes at six main locations in the north, north-west and south of the city. It is expected to be approved for public consultation between March 29 and April 18.
“It would be prohibitively expensive to invest in all future urban areas concurrently,” says an officers’ report about the need to provide transport, water, wastewater, stormwater, parks and community facilities over the 30-year-plan. Auckland needs about 400,000 new homes by 2041, many of which will be smaller townhouses and apartments built within the current urban footprint, close to public transport and existing amenities.
The Unitary Plan has increased rural land for housing from 11,000ha to 15,000ha, including “live zoning” some land earmarked for urban development in the future. This has led Auckland Council to rethink the sequencing of land for housing. Factors, like the completion of the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway in 2021, have brought forward housing plans in Warkworth, and soil testing at Takanini has pushed back 5000 new homes.
Planning committee chairman Chris Darby said the plan made it feasible to build 120,000 new homes but to make it real it has to be funded, which is a challenge for council, central government and Aucklanders. Darby said the council had to grapple with huge infrastructure costs – some of which was budgeted for, but not all. One idea in Mayor Phil Goff’s first budget is to target new residential developments with higher rates to cover the council’s heavy infrastructure burden.
Borrowing more money is not an option because the council is already up against debt levels which could cost it its AA credit rating and higher repayments. The Government, a critic of Auckland Council’s land supply pipeline for new housing, last month announced plans for locally controlled urban development authorities(UDAs) with compulsory land acquisition powers and fast-tracked resource consent processes.
Building and Construction Minister Nick Smith said the goal was to ensure enough urban land is available for housing, saying the UDAs need the powers to assemble parcels of land, develop plans, reconfigure infrastructure and build housing.
Darby said there had never been a plan for new housing in “greenfield” areas like the latest council plan. It made the timing of new developments clearer to owners of rural land and infrastructure providers and “probably put a lid on quick buck land speculation”, he said.
The six main rural areas identified for new housing are Warkworth and Silverdale/Wainui/Dairy Flat in the north, Kumeu/Huapai/Riverhead in the north-west and Takanini/Puhinui, Drury/Opaheke/Hingaia and Pukekohe/Paerata in the south. About two-thirds of the new houses are planned in the north and north-west and one-third in the south. The council is also sequencing new housing at a number of rural and community settlements from Wellsford in the north to Glenbrook Beach in the south. Other settlements include Albany Village, Hatfields Beach, Helensville, Maraetai and Clarks Beach. Water and wastewater are the main constraints holding back more housing.
In Kumeu/Haupai where the council already has plans in place for 1400 new homes – but plans for a further 6600 homes have been pushed back until after 2028 – Rodney councillor Greg Sayers is calling for an immediate start to a structure plan to cope with the changes occurring. Otherwise, he said, developers could introduce private plan changes and override where schools and other key infrastructure should be located for the community. Sayers supports the idea of running diesel trains to Huapai, saying the community desperately want a train service as an alternative to “horrific” traffic on State Highway 16.
Auckland’s latest plan to turn rural land into housing
Areas brought forward
Areas put back
Whenuapai (stage 2)
Drury West (stage 2)
Red Hills North
Warkworth North East
What’s planned and needed in the way of infrastructure
2012-2017 – Warkworth North (business)
2018-2022 – Warkworth North( 2300 houses)
2028-2032 – Warkworth South (3700 houses)
2033-2037 – Warkworth Northeast (1500 houses)
A new wastewater plant needs to be built at Snells Beach to service development in Warkworth North. Expected to take five-to-six years. Later sequencing of Warkworth South provides for the efficient staging of wastewater infrastructure. The Puhoi to Warkworth motorway is due for completion in 2021 and associated upgrades of local roads align with the sequencing of Warkworth North. Warkworth North-East occurs later to allow connections to the town centre.
2012-2017 – Wainui East (4500 houses)
2018-2022 – Silverdale West/Dairy Flat (business)
2033-2037 – Silverdale/Dairy Flat (20,400 houses), Wainui East (7400 houses)
Interim water and wastewater solutions can provide capacity in the short-term to service the live zoned area at Wainui East where there is a cap of 2000 dwellings at the Special Housing Area. Sequencing of remaining areas reflects the need for significant water and wastewater infrastructure, including a new water main from Albany and additional wastewater capacity at Army Bay. The proposed business area in Silverdale-Dairy Flat has been brought forward to provide local jobs, address transport issues and structure planning for this area is likely occur in 2017-2018 to live zone some business land in the short-term.
2012-2017 – Kumeu/Huapai (1400 houses), Whenuapai (1150 houses), Scott Points (2600 houses), Red hills (10,650 houses)
2018-2022 – Whenuapai Stage 1 (6000 houses)
2028-2032 – Kumeu/Huapai/Riverhead (6600 houses), Whenuapai Stage 2 (11,600 houses), Red Hills North (1400 houses)
The sequencing of work in the north-west is dependent on completion of a new $538 million ‘Northern Interceptor’ wastewater pipe to handle growth in this area. Interim solutions can meet the wastewater needs for the live zoned area of Red hills and the first stage of Whenuapai until the Northern Interceptor is completed in about 2026. Kumeu, Huapai and Riverhead have been put back to align with safety and capacity issues on State Highway 16, and completion of the Northern Interceptor.
2012-2017 – Walters Rd, Takanini (300 houses), Puhinui (business)
2028-2032 – Puhinui (business)
2038-2042 – Takanini (5000 houses)
The future urban zone is subject to significant flooding hazards and geotechnical constraints due to peat soils. Stormwater costs are high and further work is required to understand the viability of development in this area in the medium to long-term. It is proposed to put back development from 2027-2031 to 2038-2042.
2012-2017 – Hingaia (3070 houses), Drury South (1000 houses), Bremner Rd, Drury West (1350 houses), Bellfield Rd, Opaheke (300 houses)
2018-2022 – Drury West Stage 1 (4200 houses)
2028-2032 – Drury West Stage 2 (5700 houses), Opaheke Drury (7900 houses)
Proposed interim solutions provide wastewater capacity for initial development in Hingaia, Drury West special housing area(now live zoned), Drury West Stage 1 and Drury South. In the longer term, augmentation of the South and Southwestern interceptors is required to provide wastewater capacity for the full build-out of these areas, including Drury West Stage 2 and Opaheke-Drury. The later sequencing of Drury West Stage 2 allows for a new expressway between Drury, Paerata and Pukekohe, needed to alleviate capacity and safety issues on State Highway 22. Opaheke-Drury has been brought forward slightly as a result of developer interest, but a solution is needed to flooding constraints in combination with the completion of wastewater infrastructure before comprehensive development can occur.
2012-2017 – Wesley, Paerata (4550 houses), Belmont, Pukekohe (720 houses)
2018-2022- Paerata (1800 houses), Pukekohe (7200 houses)
No infrastructure or sequencing considerations given in council report.
Smaller rural and community settlements
Further geotech testing required due to instability in some areas. A new water source will be required to service the Future Urban Zone areas. These areas will also require an upgrade to the wastewater plan, which is likely to take until the early 2020s.
Upgrade to the wastewater outfall pipe is necessary to service new connections outside the existing service area.
Full build out of the Future Urban area will require new water services capacity and road upgrading.
Wastewater upgrades are necessary to service new developments and likely to take until the early 2020s. With limited water supply, large scale development will require new transmission lines from Albany, which is likely to take 10 years following commencement of design.
Further geotech investigation needed to manage slope stability issues and ensure effective drainage to overland flow paths and streams. The wastewater plant has recently been upgraded and can accommodate about 6000 people. This is sufficient for existing urban zoned areas and part of the Future Urban zone area. The Helensville State 1 areas is the closest Future Urban area to the wastewater plant. Watercare will monitor growth and review additional upgrade options when population nears the plant’s capacity.
The wastewater treatment plant will be upgraded as required in order to maintain discharge compliance and to accommodate growth.
The area has sufficient water and wastewater capacity. Structure planning will need to take cultural heritage and landscape values into account, consistent with the Mangere Gateway Project.
The remaining Future Urban zone is not anticipated to be development ready until 2030 due to transport constraints and market readiness.
A new wastewater outfall at Clarks Beach will be required to service new development, subject to a sub-regional wastewater discharge consent which has been applied for.
New development will depend on the new Clarks Beach wastewater outfall, and structure planning for the new area to be developed as a gateway to the village.
2018-2028 – $6.7b(North $2b, North-West $2.2b, South $2.5b)
2029-2038 – $9.7b(North $3.5b, North-West $2.8b, South $3.4b)
2039-2048 – $3.3b(North $1.3b, North-West $700m, South $1.3b)
A motorway from Auckland to Whangarei has been flagged by Transport Minister Simon Bridges. Speaking at today’s sod turning to mark the start of the $709.5 million Puhoi to Warkworth motorway, Bridges said over time the motorway would extend to Whangarei, a distance of 162km.
Prime Minister John Key and Bridges turned the first sod during a tour of roading projects north of Auckland, including a new roundabout in the township of Waimaukau. Bridges said the Government had pledged to build a four-lane road of national significance from Puhoi to Wellsford and the entire corridor to Whangarei was very important.
“A lot of people talk about the Brynderwyns and the need for a very strong solution there. “You have got Northport up closer to Whangarei, which is again justification for doing a much more significant job all the way. “Whether that’s to road of national significance standard or something different to that I couldn’t say at the moment … but as Transport Minister I’m very attracted to progress more significant road improvements, not just through to Wellsford but up to Whangarei,” Bridges said.
He said realistically it was not five or six years away, but probably a decade of more away. New Zealand Transport Agency chairman Chris Moller said the agency was looking at the Whangarei to Auckland connection but a motorway could be 30 years away. The Puhoi to Warkworth motorway extends 18.5km over difficult terrain from the Johnstone Hills tunnels just south of Puhoi to just north of Warkworth.
Critics have nicknamed it the “holiday highway” to the intense annoyance of Northland leaders. The new motorway will have two lanes in each direction divided by a central median with a safety barrier. Both Bridges and Rodney MP Mark Mitchell stressed the safety benefits of the new motorway. Said Mitchell: “Safety is definitely a No 1 concern. Unfortunately the piece of road we have to use at the moment comes with hazards and we have too many serious injuries and fatal accidents on that piece of road.”
The project is the second public private partnership (PPP) for a state highway, after the Transmission Gully motorway in Wellington. Under the latest PPP, the Northern Express Group will finance, design, construct, manage and maintain the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway for the 25 years following a five-year build. The motorway is due for completion in 2021. Incentives built into the contract will ensure the motorway is one of the safest in New Zealand with lower grades and be more resilient to natural disasters and road closures.
Bridges said a decision had not been made on whether to toll the new Puhoi to Warkworth motorway. Route protection of the next stage of the motorway from Warkworth to Wellsford is underway. The NZ Transport Agency is planning to release an indicative route early next year. The Automobile Association is delighted that construction is officially underway on the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway extension. “Many people from outside Northland don’t understand what a vital step forward this is for us,” AA Northland District Chairman Steve Westgate said. “It’s not just about safer, quicker and more reliable journeys, it’s about the economic opportunities that come with it. This project will improve our connections with Auckland, New Zealand and the world.”