Having walked down lower and mid Queen Street not so long ago to give my presentation on (and ironically) the City Centre Master Plan at Town Hall, I can safely say what the article states is true to an extent.
Lower Queen Street near Britomart is pretty good with some high-end stores mixed with medium and low-end stores as well. It is between Fort Street and Town Hall – particularly on the Town Hall side of Queen Street where we see the situation pointed out in the article. Put it this way I avoid that section of Queen Street unless it’s a straight walk through, even then I have a tendency to walk on the Britomart side of Queen Street in my trips to and from Town Hall.
Although in my City Centre Presentation I focused on the City Rail Link (which has potential to lift the area) and Wynyard Quarter, Queen Street was never far from my mind and its potential that can be reached.
To “solve” the problem of Queen Street is going to need just not only vision, but a serious case of “balls of steel” to see any urban improvements done. The improvements are multi-tiered and multi-dimensional with transport in the area being the biggest fish-hook that can snag anyone. Do I have a “solution” for Queen Street? I do but it is very dependent on a lot of factors.
For starters you would flip Queen Street from Customs Street to Fort Street into a Pedestrian Mall where only the Link Buses and Goods Vehicles (from a certain time) would be sharing the space with pedestrians. Then over the next 15 years as the CRL gets under way and some traffic route rerouting in surrounding streets, the mall gets extended street by street up to Mayoral Drive/Queen Street intersection.
Removing the noisy road traffic and “greening” up the mid and lower quarters of Queen Street would go some (but not all) distance in lifting the desirability of the area. The other issue is one of a market issue and that is supply and demand of commercial retail in the area. An oversupply causing vacant spaces is NOT going to help Queen Street much and will most likely serve as a catalyst into attracting junk shops as struggling building owners try to get their returns on dormant sites. So Council and businesses have to work together in managing commercial retail to avoid gluts and shortfalls which can stymie our Golden Mile.
I understand this from the article:
Ludo Campbell-Reid, the council urban design champion, does not want the civic vision spoiled.
“The mayor and I are determined to see the revival of the high street occur in Auckland and are interested in overcoming any perceived or real barriers to achieving this,” he said.
Having sat through City Centre Master Plan hearings and giving a presentation in front of Mr Campbell-Read (heck he even has a wiki-page so least I gave a presentation to an actual “expert”), Chairman George Wood and the Committee (to which I got a letter of thanks and commendation (verbal as well) – see below); the fact I work in the city (Britomart); am busy designing the Auckland Water-Frontier; and know the potential this city can deliver through the Britomart Precinct (which is damn beautiful and love walking through it on my breaks (when the weather does not go for a piddle)); I know Auckland can get it right and restore Queen Street from a $2 mile back to its Golden Mile status that it once enjoyed.
So time for some action lets restore Queen Street.
And a thank you to the Auckland Plan Committee for hearing my presentation to the City Centre Master Plan. Very much appreciated and acknowledge your letter of thanks in return.
The Letter of Commendation and Thanks