For Run Down Seedy Area that was to be Avoided to an Area that is the Place to be
Yesterday I joined a delegation of media, Fort Street stakeholders (business and property owners), Mayor Len Brown, Auckland Design Champion Ludo Campbell-Reid, and others for a tour down Fort Street – in Downtown Auckland. From what was a run down area that actually put people off from wanting to walk down Fort Street is now turning into a place to be from dawn to dusk and into the wee hours of the morning.
Council have released a release on the Fort Street transformational upgrade and I also got some photos that I first shared last night. I will put them into this post as a Slide Show as well.
Some key aspects from the Council release (I’ll dump the lot in including the link):
The stage is set for one of Auckland’s most infamous streets to become a vibrant inner-city shopping and dining area.
Fort Street, previously a tired and neglected part of downtown Auckland, has been reclaimed as the city’s largest shared space with a four-year, $20 million Auckland Council and Auckland Transport project, funded through the CBD targeted rate.
Mayor Len Brown says, “Our shared spaces have dramatically and successfully transformed the look and feel of the inner-city, to the benefit of workers, residents, visitors and businesses in the area. They are one of Auckland’s major recent success stories.”
Auckland Council Urban Design Champion Ludo Campbell-Reid says, “Shared spaces are an urban design strategy to make cities pedestrian-friendly. They encourage space sharing by taking away traditional roads to create safe people-friendly space. This in turn boosts private investment and confidence. Their success is based on understanding the psychology of how people behave and make the change from traditional traffic engineering practices.”
Shared spaces are designed to give priority to pedestrians while still allowing access to vehicles. They are proving popular with pedestrians and businesses in areas where they have been already installed such as Elliott, Darby and Lorne Streets.
Research on Stages One and Two of the Fort Street upgrade has shown a doubling of foot traffic and a 400 per cent rise in hospitality spending. Traffic speeds have also been reduced and visitors report feeling safer walking through the area at night.
Connal Townsend, Chair of the CBD Advisory Board, says that inner city targeted rate payers are very proud of the success of the project and hope the Fort Street model can be used to achieve successful urban rejuvenation across Auckland inner city.
“Aucklanders will remember Fort Street as a run-down part of town – the shared space in Fort Street has completely turned the area around. The decision by the old Auckland City Council to develop shared space in Auckland has been one of the most significant initiatives in recent years in bringing life back to the inner city and has played a huge role in making the CBD safer, more walkable, more intimate and more usable.”
Shortland Management owns several high profile properties in the area. John Courtney of Shortland Management says, “the new shared space creates a people friendly connection between the shopping and leisure areas around Britomart and the business, shopping and student district around Shortland Street, High Street and the universities. All this is thanks to the support of local business, retail community and the work of the contractors and council project team.”
Auckland Transport has delivered the shared space project as part of Auckland’s City Centre Master Plan 2012 and the 10-year CBD upgrade programme started in 2004.
See the Fort Street Area Upgrade for more information.
Some key statistics that were given yesterday that I did record down on the Fort Street upgrade were (and thanks to Council for providing them):
Key statistical findings from the report were:
- 91% of users and stakeholders were highly complimentary about the new shared space, compared to 17% before. And over 75% of property owners determined that it was valuable being sited near or adjacent to a shared space.
- Foot traffic has increased by 50% during peak hours (comparing pre-works in 2008 to post-works in 2011)
- Almost half of those surveyed (49%) would visit the area more often, as a destination in its own right
- There are noticeably fewer vehicles and they are travelling at slower speeds
After the tour and testimonies from business and property owners in the Fort Street area I believe I can safely say the upgrades thus far (still got more coming over time) are a success. Looking and walking through the area personally yesterday on the tour while knowing what Fort Street was in its previous life, I give the transformations now and still upcoming a full vote of confidence. Of course as implied there is still more to be done both public and private sector wise.
All-in-all though after the deputation to Council (Urban/Rural Development Committee next week) I might head down to one of the eating establishments in Fort Street to “try the area out.”
And so inspirations seen in Fort Street (and other areas) will be rolled out to O’Connell Street (March next year) and with luck after some prodding our Metropolitan and Town Centres.
Yes Ludo I already have the first prime shared space candidacy in one of our (Super) Metropolitan Centres – Manukau. And a prime candidacy at that:
More on that at the deputation next Thursday
The photos I took yesterday on Fort Street and Fort Lane
Again thank you to Auckland Council for inviting me out yesterday to mark the occasion of Fort Street’s transformation into a Shared Space. Very much appreciated and informative of the steps and testimonies given today on the project ranging from the short-term pain of construction through to uplifts in foot traffic and business for the businesses in the area.