Today Auckland Airport sees 20 million passengers every year pass through its doors and with growth expected to reach 40 million by 2040, well placed investment in infrastructure is essential.
But the airport isn’t just a place to get on a plane. Today, it’s a bustling aviation and business hub that houses 800 businesses employing 16,000 people in a wide range of roles. The Airport is rapidly becoming Auckland’s southern city.
To understand this fast evolving picture, and to discover what’s underway and planned at the airport, Love Your Workspace spoke to Daniel Henderson, who is part of the team responsible for the airport’s highly successful property growth over recent years.
Daniel opens the throttles by saying that we should no longer consider the airport as simply a place to fly into or out of New Zealand. In his view, Auckland’s population growth and the airport’s development to date mean that it is already an emerging city and multi-use transport hub in its own right.
“Auckland Airport, like Auckland itself, is a growing story of population, infrastructure and amenity,” he says. “This is an evolving multi-use town centre that offers greater-than-ever access to the burgeoning South Auckland population.”
“We’re seeing a powerful decentralisation theme across the city, and we’ve been in this phase for the last four or five years. By 2020, millennials will be 50% of Auckland’s workforce – and they are moving south. Availability of land and housing in the south means that the growth in population numbers are exploding.
“I can’t see it ending for a very long time - if at all. Well-designed centres are now providing viable and rewarding alternatives closer to homes across the city. It makes increasing sense to live near to where you work, both from a financial point of view and in terms of lifestyle.”
Above: Award-winning building, Quad 7, designed by Warren & Mahoney
Already a growing hub of varied uses
To cater to this evolving demand, Henderson says that Auckland Airport is already offering a wide variety of work, hospitality, hotels, retail and amenities within the airport buildings and surrounding precincts.
“We’ve put a huge amount of effort into developing our business and retail precinct according to a carefully conceived suburban-urban masterplan. We offer people all the advantages of living in the suburbs. Then, when they come to work, they can have all the urban benefits of a city environment: the best of both worlds.”
This development work is not just about creating great buildings. It is the master planning and diversity of uses in those buildings that is the real driver of value, he says.
“Single-use assets are all dying. Business parks are dead, because they are boring. By contrast, town centres are growing because of the vibrancy, diversity and interest they activate for people 24 hours 7 days a week.”
“People don’t want to go to work in a place that is alive only from nine to five. They want to go to work because of the opportunity, the facilities on offer and their convenient availability, and not just because of a pay cheque. Work, amenity, hospitality, shopping and recreation: you have to provide multiple reasons for people to go to a location, and that’s exactly what we’re doing here.”
So, what new offers are attracting people to the airport?
“Hotels are bringing a positive new vibe, with the people flying in and out or doing business at the airport, visiting our food and beverage, retail and service providers all day and night. We’ve also just announced hotel number four opposite the Ibis, which will be a great new addition to the precinct with 144 new rooms.
“We’re adopting best practice urban design creating a town centre comprised of high quality and sustainable buildings. With each new development we ask, ‘what new services can we add?’ This is the advantage of being a single landlord: we’re able to masterplan the provision of services to improve the quality of the staff experience. We’re not doing this one building at a time: we’re building a whole city, a diverse urban environment of hotels, offices, retail and services all clustered together with easy access to public transport.”
Above: Great amenity for staff at Kawau Kitchen, Quad 7
Ah, transport. What’s going on there?
Saying that ‘public transport is the key’ to the development of not only the airport but the wider city, Henderson acknowledges that there is work to be done on creating a city wide public transport system. Currently, the airport is spending $100 million on new roading infrastructure and on planning for the future.
“Our aim is to become a genuine transport hub - the only place in Auckland where road, rail and air connect. We’re working closely with AT and NZTA to significantly improve connectivity to the Airport. Current projects include: bus and high occupancy (HOV) lanes from SH20A direct to the Airport, Nixon Road connection adding more capacity for southbound traffic and dedicated Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and HOV lanes to and from Puhinui Station to the south which will ensure that Auckland Airport is a coherent part of the public transport system in Auckland.
“Right now, the public transport system operates efficiently from Manukau and Onehunga hubs but we are working closely with AT and NZTA to extend this connectivity through light rail to the north, and BRT which is proposed to extend all the way to Botany. We are ensuring that we protect all options for public transport to the airport by protecting the proposed corridors - which have to be 45 metres wide - to allow for cycle, pedestrian, road, rail, and bus use.”
Fresh long-term planning for more runways, office and retail
In the meantime, planning for the second runway is consuming significant resource, he says.
“Pulling together the infrastructure planning for the second runway and planning for the major transport changes that will result from it are massive pieces of work. It’s all about investment for the future”.
“We know that for occupiers it is all about moving to a location that they are confident the landlord is committed to growing the business and making it better. They need confidence that the infrastructure, services and amenities will continue to improve, and the landlord they are partnering with is going to be able to continue with their business over time.”
The airport is spending around $2 billion in the next few years to deliver on these plans. Plans that are already underway include reviewing options for new office buildings as well as conference and new retail concepts. It is important that we are designing ahead of demand so that we can grow the precinct and improve the quality of the amenity and services which makes moving to the airport an easy choice”
In short, significant momentum is building in this location, matched only by the commitment being shown by the airport to grow and keep improving its offer.
We are moving into an exciting phase with the development of our new office and retail to match the new infrastructure being developed and planned with AT and NZTA. The airport is rapidly growing and we are in a unique position to shape the growth and quality of Auckland’s southern city.
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