Auckland's Mission Bay makeover: Is it time for a revamp?

A proposed $200 million transformation by property and investment company Urban Partners will see much of Mission Bay's aging commercial area replaced.
A proposed $200 million transformation by property and investment company Urban Partners will see much of Mission Bay's aging commercial area replaced. Photo credit: Getty

Mission Bay features in Auckland's Google synopsis, and because of its prime position, some think it's time the seaside promenade got a makeover, but not everyone agrees. 

A proposed $200 million transformation by property and investment company Urban Partners will see much of Mission Bay's aging commercial area replaced with a development that includes up to 100 apartments and townhouses. 

Urban Partners, whose investment in the site goes back almost three decades, has proposed 265 basement and ground level car parks for Mission Bay, as well as an improved cinema facility and a mix of hospitality, modern and recreational space. 

Project director Doug Osborne says the proposal made to Auckland Council last Wednesday aims to bring much needed improvement to the commercial area, and create a lasting legacy for the community, saying in a press release it presents an "exciting new chapter".

He told Newshub Auckland Council will soon put the full proposal up online. From there the public can make submissions within 20 working days of it being publicly notified. In their submissions, the public can say if they're for or against the project. 

Beachfront businesses running east on Tāmaki Dr from De Fontein Belgian Beer Cafe to Andrea Ristorante Italiano will be affected by the revamp if it goes ahead, including the Hoyts Berkeley movie theatre, and south on Patteson Ave to Tana Mera Espresso. 

A design proposal for Mission Bay, which some say reminds them of Miami.
A design proposal for Mission Bay, which some say reminds them of Miami. Photo credit: Supplied / Urban Partners

Urban Legacy & Partners, known as Urban Partners, has lodged a land resource consent application with Auckland Council to demolish existing buildings and houses it owns on the 6527sq m block, with proposal images depicting a modern Miami-style promenade lined with palm trees. 

But not everyone's a fan of the designs. A change.org petition has been launched, calling for the council to protect Mission Bay's art deco buildings. The petition asks the council to "consider a redevelopment that preserves the art deco architecture", but it had only gathered 129 signatures as of Monday. 

The University of Auckland's School of Architecture and planning senior lecturer Bill McKay says the design proposals "could have been more sensitive" to the context of the area, adding he's surprised the De Fontein building wouldn't be retained. 

A design proposal for a revamped Mission Bay cinema complex.
A design proposal for a revamped Mission Bay cinema complex. Photo credit: Supplied / Urban Partners

He said he'd like to see Mission Bay "fine-tuned", but doesn't think the designs do the area justice, telling Newshub just because Urban Partners owns a whole block doesn't mean they need to build "one giant building". 

"What we try and do these days is break buildings down to kind of suit the texture of the area. They could have expressed this in a couple of buildings. Here we've got a really huge monolith," Mr McKay said. 

"I don't have a particular problem with the scale of it," he said, explaining how apartment-living is becoming more popular among Aucklanders. But he said the designs "could be fine-tuned in terms of the texture of that site in the area." 

Mr Osborne told Newshub Urban Partners has had "many pre-application meetings with the council and have worked with them all the way through the designs".

The design proposal features up to 100 apartments and townhouses.
The design proposal features up to 100 apartments and townhouses. Photo credit: Supplied / Urban Partners

He said urban design is "very subjective" and that his company will never be able to please everybody.  But Urban Partners had three meetings with the Auckland Urban Design Panel, he said, the majority of which "supported many of the aspects of the design." 

Chairman of the Orakei Local Board Kit Parkinson has welcomed the design proposal, particularly upgrades to the existing cinema premises "which do not meet current IEP earthquake ratings."

He said the area is "popular with the wider Auckland community and the new improved food hospitality services and modern retail and recreational space will be welcomed by residents and visitors to the area."

Urban Partners acquired the land in Mission Bay over 30 years ago. 

Newshub. 

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