One of Auckland's city fringe suburbs is about to reveal a $6 million makeover from a group of first-time and local developers, who hope to make the space "everything a mall isn't".
Morningside Precinct is set to open in less than two weeks with 11 independent businesses, both new and established.
These are said to include a local tavern, cider bar, dessert bar, community-minded cafe, various food hotspots, media and tech businesses, a bridal atelier and a 450-sqm glasshouse events space with 8m high oak trees growing inside it.
The glasshouse is meant to be enjoyed by community ventures and gatherings, market days and celebrations. It has a12m high ceiling, a reported 'Mediterranean feel' and space for 400 standing or 250 seated.
Owned by Common Projects Ltd, Morningside Precinct has been designed by Pip and Nat Cheshire, Britomart Hospitality Group's Rod Ballenden and Nick McCaw alongside investors Jeremy Priddy, Blair Wolfgram and Paul Gibbard.
"We wanted to curate and collide just enough diversity and density of food, drink, garden and good humans to make a wonder-filled place, near your place," says co-owner Nat Cheshire.
"Morningside's time has come. The place will emerge and change in a way that is sustainable, so our vision is not so much an ideal finished state, but a collective that evolves with the changing landscape."
Four kilometres south-west of the city centre, the Morningside suburb comes from a farm estate that was subdivided in 1865 for housing lots. The phrase "Morningside for life" was made NZ-famous by animated TV show Bro'Town in the early 2000s.
Locals may be familiar with Crave, a Morningside café said to be known for enormous weekend queues and great coffee. The Morningside precinct owners say the café is "proof of concept" and have added it to their group, rather than compete against it.
The group's second café will be entitled KIND and be located within the precinct.
"The tenant mix has been deliberate. Almost everyone said yes," says development manager Rod Ballenden.
"They could see through the leaky sheds but there was trust too that we each had our own track records, that our reputations were on the line, and that we weren't in it for a quick buck, but rather the excitement of making a better city, directly and together."
Another sign-up is Miann, responsible for doling out pastries and gelato to customers since September, even in the midst of a building site.
From here the concept was sold through to food alley tenants Electric Chicken (formerly a pop up in Mercury Plaza), Bo's Dumplings (spawn of Top café off K' Rd) and a local cider maker who will produce 'Morningcider' for punters alongside a brick-clad 260sqm family tavern in the precinct.
The owners call the result "a critical mass of deliciousness".
"Nobody is fancy. They're just really, really good," says Cheshire.
A complete transformation of what was once an old drapes factory on McDonald Street, Morningside Precinct is set to open its curtains on November 19.