The Meeting Place of the South needs new meeting places
Manukau: The Meeting Place of the South is the line I came up with to run along side Panuku Development Auckland’s Manukau: The Heart and Soul of The South as seen here: #TransformManukau – Our Identity. Part 13 of the Manukau City Centre – The Transform Series. Well at the moment Manukau is more a meeting place for parked cars than a meeting place for people. Not exactly helpful in improving the quality of life and economic participation of the people now is it?
So what to do?
We leverage what existing assets we do have in Manukau City Centre as well as build some new ones over assets that are not really viable to a large Metropolitan Centre such as Manukau.
Hayman Park has a $20m upgrade according to the Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board Area Plan so all that needs is the committed funding to get that upgrade under way. So with Hayman Park taken care of we look back to our potential urban developments to encourage and foster meeting places inside Manukau City Centre.
Thus I turn my attention to the Westfield Mall and, Lot 59 car parks currently owned by Auckland Council via Panuku.
A Town Hall
Two things Manukau City Centre lack is a Town Hall and a Town Centre to act as civic anchors to the large Metropolitan Centre. Two things we can build over existing surface car parks; a Town Centre and a ‘Town hall. Actually you can probably two Town Centres in Manukau City Centre with one at the southern end and one at the northern end. But in any case Manukau lacks and needs a Town Hall and a Town Centre to act as civic meeting places in and for Manukau City Centre.
The Town Hall would be on the surplus Lot 59 land next to where the Manukau Bus Interchange is going. As I was writing this I was also thinking that the Town Hall would also incorporate a Marae ((The marae (meeting grounds) is the focal point of Māori communities throughout New Zealand)(Marae – Māori meeting grounds | New Zealand)) given Southern Auckland has a very large Maori (and other ethnic) population. The Town Hall would serve a medium-sized community space when the Vodafone Events Centre is too large and/or expensive and also home to the Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board. The existing Civic Building would be left for the bureaucracy just as we have in the City Centre with Town Hall and The Tower (135 Albert Street).
The Town Hall could also as well as holding a Marae complex could house Te Papa North as well making the entire area the Civic Meeting Place of the South. To me placing Te Papa North as part of the Town Hall/Marae complex makes more sense than consuming more of Hayman Park which we need as the green lung of Manukau City Centre.
As you can see in the above picture The Civic Meeting Place (Town Hall, Marae and Te Papa North) sits right in the hub of all things transport including the heavy rail station, the soon to be bus station, road connections and somewhere down the line a light rail connection to the Airport and Botany. Also MIT would be right next door as well expanding the complex to include all things education.
As for a Town Centre well I can find a few surface car parks that need to be built over in Manukau. Initially I chose the southern car parking lot at Westfield Mall given the land is owned by the Council.
The development is mixed use with commercial retail, office and hospitality, residential and open space with car parking under the complex. Further to the east the surface car park that is in front of the Countdown section of the mall is replaced with an open park to expand the needed green spaces in an intensified Manukau City Centre. No the mall does not lose any car parks as the existing lot go under ground with the mall reworked to allow their entrances to connect to these parks.
The Town Centre with his centre circle acts as the urban meeting place for Manukau that is not a mall. The Town Centre with its centre circle and open park is also near the Manukau Bus and Train Stations with a future Light Rail Station right opposite it. So transit connections would not be an issue.
I have considered Panuku’s position of selling the car park land back to Scentre/Westfield as is listed in the High Level Project Plan. This would bear no hindrance as any sale should attach strict conditions to allow such a Town Centre complex to be built which would become part of the mall complex any way. Scentre would just need to be a tad proactive in allowing mixed use developments and open spaces which would drive more customers to its facility – the largest in its Auckland portfolio in terms of retailers (199 (Sylvia Park has 207)).
The Town Hall Civic Complex, and the Town Centre complex would be the southern Meeting Places of the South for Manukau City Centre. In the next post I swing back north again and look at AUT Manukau and the surrounding area and how to get that into the northern Meeting Places of the South for Manukau City Centre. Not going to be easy given the Cavendish Drive arterial and main flight path is in the area.