Downtown Auckland shopping centre shuts doors

Downtown Auckland shopping centre shuts doors

It's been a stalwart of Auckland's CBD for more than four decades, but the Downtown Shopping Centre has closed for the last time tonight. It will be demolished to make way for a new shopping and business precinct.

As Auckland's waterfront has changed over the past 41 years, one building has stayed pretty much the same.

Inside the Downtown Shopping Centre, Faye Blomquist has owned her aromatherapy store for 19 years. She's nearly sold all her stock and tonight she's closing the doors for the last time.

"I'm very sad; in fact it's been quite emotional day today -- customers coming in and telling me how much they've loved the store. And it wasn't until the last week or two that it came home to me that I really realised that," she says.

In June the building will be demolished. In its place will be a city precinct called Commercial Bay, with shops, bars and office spaces on top. Underneath there will be two rail tunnels and carparks.

"I think we've seen a real resurgence in Queen St in the last 12 to 24 months, and I think this location at the bottom of Queen St on the waterfront, it's what we've been working towards for a long time," says Precinct Properties CEO Scott Pritchard.

"I think it's going to be great for the city."

That resurgence has seen big changes to the types of shops in and around the Queen St area.

Convenience stores, discount outlets and souvenir shops have slowly been disappearing. They've been squeezed out by higher rents, with bigger international brands coming in.

"This centre has been here for 41 years and there's a lot of history, and we absolutely have to respect that history. It's mixed feelings on a day like today because we've got some retailers who have been fantastic for the centre and they will be moving out today. But at the same time, what's coming for Auckland is going to be remarkable."

For Ms Blomquist though, the demolition is giving her a chance to take a much-needed break from nearly two decades on the shop floor.