Next steps in Mission Bay rejuvenation Project

Following the lodging of a resource consent application last month by Urban Legacy & Partners Limited (Urban Partners) for consent to plans to rejuvenate Mission Bay’s centre, the Auckland Council has now publicly notified the application (as requested by Urban Partners) to allow submissions from the public.

The public now have 20 working days to lodge a submission on the application with their feedback on the Project for redevelopment of the eastern part of Mission Bay’s local centre.

Project Director Doug Osborne says feedback to date through informal consultation and online / social media channels has been mainly positive.

“We have been encouraged by the level of the support for the Project so far. The public agree that change is desperately needed for Mission Bay and we’re proud to have put forward a proposal for a Project that will make Mission Bay a better place for all the community.

“We recognise that no Project will meet with 100 per cent approval. However, the level of support we have received so far affirms our commitment to deliver a transformative development that will see this iconic area meet its full potential.”

Urban Partners welcomes feedback on the Project through its next stage of the Council’s formal submission process. Submissions can be lodged in support or opposition to the application.

“We look forward to the next stage of this open, publicly notified process, which gives everyone the opportunity to have their say,” concludes Osborne.

Local Centre rejuvenation Project planned for Mission Bay

An application to substantially upgrade one of Auckland’s best-loved urban beach neighbourhoods with a rejuvenated and contemporary new local centre is set to be lodged with Auckland Council on Wednesday 15 August.

A proposed $200 million transformation will see much of Mission Bay’s aging commercial area replaced with a premium development that includes up to 100 quality apartments and townhouses, 265 basement and ground level car parks, a state of the art cinema facility and a mix of hospitality, modern retail and recreational space.

The Project is led by Urban Legacy & Partners Limited (Urban Partners) whose plans and investment in the site goes back almost three decades.

Project Director Doug Osborne says the Project will bring much needed improvement to the commercial area and create a lasting lifestyle legacy for the community.

“Mission Bay is not only a favourite spot for Aucklanders but also a tourist destination for local and international visitors.

“We have put the community interests at the forefront of this transformational Project and designed an upmarket plan that celebrates Mission Bay with a vibrant new local centre. 

“Our priority has been to make Mission Bay a better place for the community and the design presents an exciting new chapter for Mission Bay and Auckland.

“We have put thought and care into a design that references elements of the art deco flavour of Mission Bay while providing a vibrant mix of hospitality, modern retail and recreational space for locals and visitors alike.”

The Mission Bay Project is one of the first examples of a significant mixed-use project since Auckland’s new Unitary Plan came into effect two years ago.

The site’s Local Centre zoning allows for more intensive mixed-use development than has previously occurred in Auckland’s smaller centres.

“The Project has been designed to ensure that its scale and intensity is suitable for the iconic location and creates a gateway to the Mission Bay local centre.

We have considered the needs of the surrounding neighbourhood with generous integration of the Project into open public spaces and a strong connection to the beach front promenade,” says Osborne.

The Project includes seven buildings with a range of heights, materials and colours and provides sight-lines across the site and pedestrian lane-ways through the site.

The townhouse residences proposed on Marau Crescent defer to the residential zoning on the southern side of Marau Crescent with a lower height and sensitive integration with the surrounding neighbourhood.

The height of the buildings has been redistributed to maintain three levels on Marau Crescent and gradually increase along Patteson Avenue and Tamaki Drive culminating with a landmark eight level building on the corner of Tamaki Drive and Patteson Avenue.  The landmark building will provide a gateway to the heart of Mission Bay.

The Project design features strong public integration, with some 150 metres of public interface along Tamaki Drive and Patteson Avenue around the north and west-facing ground floor levels.

Osborne says the Project will stimulate local business by increasing the value of investment in the commercial centre as envisaged under the Unitary Plan.

Chairman of the Orakei Local Board Kit Parkinson says he welcomes the planned investment into the area.

“Urban Partners have been respectful of the iconic status of the surrounding location and the Project complements the most prized reserve in all of the Hauraki Gulf.

“Urban Partners acquired the land in Mission Bay over 30 years and in planning this regeneration Project has considered the community needs as well as realising the potential of the prime coastal space with new residential expansion.

“I am especially pleased that the new local centre will include an improved cinema attraction of up to five state of the art theatres over two levels. The locals love going to the cinema and the proposal is a significant upgrade to the existing cinema premises which do not meet current IEP earthquake ratings.   Cinemas are loss leading spaces and a less considerate plan could have forfeited them in favour of higher returns from residential and commercial space.

“This 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.

“As a local I’m looking forward to the new local centre and a wider variety of restaurants and cafes on our doorstep,” concludes Parkinson.

Urban Partners has requested that the application be publicly notified to enable the community to have its say on the Project.

Facts at a glance

  • The site – 75-79, 81-87 and 89-97 Tamaki Drive. 6-12 and 14 Patteson Avenue and 26,28 and 30 Marau Crescent

  • The land is zoned for Business Local Centre under the Unitary Plan

  • The proposal features a mix of commercial (retail and food and beverage), entertainment (cinema) and residential

  • The proposal includes up to 100 apartments

  • Up to 265 Basement and ground level car parks

  • A gross floor area of 35,095 m2

  • Food & beverage commercial account for approximately 2,920m2

  • Significant upgrade of the existing commercial area with a new cinema complex that accounts for 955m2

  • The design references elements of the art deco flavour of Mission Bay

  • The architects are The Buchan Group

  • Urban Partners is in the process of consulting with tenants

  • The Project has been arrived at from more than 18 months of spatial testing of the site’s opportunities and constraints, including three sessions with the Council’s independent and non-statutory Urban Design Panel

  • The transformation of the site will enhance the function and the role of Mission Bay

  • Urban Partners has requested that the application be publicly notified to enable the community to have its say on the Project

Property Council Awards

At a glittering annual NZ Property Council Awards evening, Jonny Staples was proud to accept, on behalf of Urban Partners, the My Trends Industrial Property ‘Best in Category’ Award for the Spark Data Centre. The Award is the successful culmination of a 3 year collaboration between Spark, Aecom, Hawkins Construction, Xigo and Urban Partners which has culminated in the design and construction of an exemplary, world leading facility, setting the benchmark for the resource efficient, cost effective, secure and reliable data centres of the future.

The Spark Data Centre also received the Resene Green Building Property Award of Merit. The centre  is the most modern, secure, technically advanced and adaptable data centre in New Zealand- ensuring Kiwis can take comfort their personal information is highly secure when saving to the Cloud. Built to global TIA standards, it provides levels of redundancy and resilience required by Enterprise and Government clients.

From inception to completion, it is a model of foresight, innovation and attention to detail, whilst demonstrating the alignment of sustainability and financial goals. Significantly, the Spark Data Centre achieves a 60% reduction in site energy consumption when compared to typical data centres. Adaptability and scalability are key differentiators; every aspect of the facility has been designed to grow, change or shrink as required. This seamless ability to change occurs with no interruption to customers and without necessitating costly re design.

'Beyond the Green Gates'

'Beyond the Green Gates'

Following Haydn Staples' announcement at Urban Partners launch function for their new brand, the Staples Education Foundation has been established and 8 lucky students are now enjoying the benefit of a Staples Education Scholarship.

Dilworth has been educating boys of straitened circumstances for over a hundred years. Entrepreneur, philanthropist and co founder of Urban Partners, Haydn Staples’s affinity for Dilworth’s approach has led him to provide additional support for the students from ‘beyond the green gates’ of Dilworth.

Support for New Zealand’s Birthplace

The Bay of Islands holds a special place in the folklore of our country thanks to its role in providing the backdrop for the nation’s founding. Today it’s still a great showcase of our story, both past and present.

With key properties in the heart of Paihia, Urban Partners has played an important role in helping the tourist hotspot continue its appeal for visitors to the area. That standing, alongside some of the company’s larger-scale projects in Auckland and other regions, led the Waitangi National Trust to approach the firm for help in devising a plan outlining how its sizeable land holdings might be utilised in future years.

The Trust is responsible for the Treaty grounds and also the extensive surrounding farmlands and forests. With this expansive land holding came an array of possible uses including hospitality, cultural, educational and sports and recreation.

Urban Partners CEO Rob Marshall believes these proposed land uses highlight the potential to provide both a wide range of services and opportunities for the region and that is something the company wanted to address in the plan.

“With the assistance of the Trust and Urban Designers, Reset Urban, we produced a concept plan that investigated land-use planning options and possible commercial activities that could occur on the land.”

“The historical and cultural importance of the site was a critical factor in the development of the plan,” says Marshall.

“We wanted a plan that both respected and enhanced the area, whilst providing information to assist with the planning and development of appropriate commercial activities in the future.”

Part of that promise of respect was seen in the focus not only on commercial viability but also environmental sustainability, with native regeneration and the retiring of gullies to help protect natural values.

Waitangi National Trust now has a comprehensive land use plan which will act as a management tool to assist them with future commercial and environmental development activities.

How Auckland Can Remain One of the World’s Most Liveable Cities

Auckland has long been a high achiever in those “World’s Most Liveable Cities” rankings. In the 2015 Mercer Quality of Living Rankings our biggest city came in third, while in the most recent Economist Intelligence Unit’s Liveability Survey it placed tenth. These kinds of lists take into consideration aspects like safety, education, health care, culture, environment and recreation, to name a few, and then allocate a score to over 200 cities.

Auckland consistently scores highly in all facets but a pedigree for success here doesn’t always guarantee future performance because cities aren’t just static entities. They grow and evolve, with new innovations and creations helping to shape how urban spaces are, not only built and developed, but also how they are used.

In Auckland’s case it’s in the midst of a massive social, economic and environmental sea change and that has opened the door for new ways of thinking and new approaches in the urban design space. These are the five urban design trends shaping and changing our most populated city, ensuring it stays at the front of the pack for liveable cities.

Shared Space

It’s no secret the quarter-acre dream has fast become just that – a dream – for many Aucklanders. Rampantly-rising house prices and immigration levels mean space is at a premium so being smart about how we use it is paramount. When you remove the traditional footpath/road distinctions and create an area where vehicles and pedestrians can coexist, shared spaces are the result and make for a more inviting environment with increased usability. Also expect to see changes in the makeup of households with more multi-family housing.





Smarter Cities

The hordes heading to the City of Sails aren’t just putting a strain on housing, they’re also pushing the existing infrastructure to its limits and in order to battle this problem smart technology is being heralded as our saviour. We’ve already seen the first steps to a smarter Auckland with the implementation of the one AT Hop Card for all public transport services, but more smart initiatives are in the pipeline. Earlier this year, the city partnered with Microsoft for the launch of the CityNext platform which aims to transform local government and support innovation through the use of information and communication technologies and big data.

Adapting to Threats

Whether you’re a climate-change skeptic or a firm believer, it’s difficult to ignore the impact our ever-changing environment will have on urban design going forward. In New Zealand our famous habit for boasting about our close proximity to a beach means the threat of rising sea levels is one that’s being taken very seriously. By 2050 our sea levels are expected to rise by 30cm and because of this, future plans around buildings and infrastructure are being developed to allow for the higher levels.

To find out the final two urban design trends shaping Auckland, download the free infographic here.

Urban Partners consults with locals over Waiwera plans


Chief Executive Rob Marshall and property consultant Evan Vertue recently attended the Waiwera Property Owners and Ratepayers Association (WAIPORA) to update them on work completed over the past year. Mr Marshall’s presentation to almost 100 residents at the meeting was well received. “We felt it was an opportune time to update the community on our work over the past year and the feedback from the community was very positive” said Mr Marshall. 

After presenting some background on the history of Urban Partners and their current projects, the discussion turned to Waiwera.  Topics covered included the results of market assessments, geothermal water investigations, heritage assessments of historic bathhouses, wastewater reticulation option analysis and masterplanning and concept development.

Urban Partners’ vision for Waiwera is to “create a world class leisure and hospitality destination” befitting its unique natural attributes and proximity to Auckland. Although significant progress has been made on development options across the three land holdings under Urban Partners management, no firm decisions have yet been made as to the precise timing and nature of development. It is clear however, that any development will necessarily be staged over a number of years.  The development is most likely to comprise a combination of hospitality, health and wellness, leisure and both temporary and  permanent  accommodation. 

“We were very pleased to be able to update the local community in this way and will continue to engage with WAIPORA on a regular basis” said Mr Marshall.

Southgate sale aligns with Urban Partners’ strategy for the future

On 30 April 2015, Urban Partners completed the sale of the Southgate shopping centre in South Auckland to Augusta. When the development of Southgate began over 12 years ago there was very little in the way of large format retail in the area. It was a strategic decision by then Retail Holdings, based on the planning considerations for the area and the population growth projections at the time. As the name Retail Holdings suggests, we had retail in our veins right from the start. It’s a legacy that began when brothers Haydn and Mark Staples began investing in retail property off the back of being retail tenants in the 1970s. 

The sale of Southgate Centre marks a milestone for Urban Partners, a closing off of one chapter in our 30-year history and the start of another that sees us moving into growth sectors such as hospitality, health and wellness destinations residential mixed use developments, amongst others.  Auckland’s growth, the aging population, a strong hospitality sector, and an increasing interest in health and wellbeing are all major trends that are factored into our business strategy. 

The rebrand from Retail Holdings to Urban Partners in 2014 was a way of communicating our new direction to the market. That’s not to say that Urban Partners is getting out of retail altogether. There are retail elements to a number of our existing investments in Mission Bay, Waiwera and Pahia that are an integral part of our plans to carefully transform these popular destinations into ‘visionary places’.  And as the recent design, fund and delivery of projects like the Spark Data Centre have shown, we are actively looking for new projects that leverage our core skills and competencies, and align with Urban Partners’ vision for the future.

To find out what the top urban design trends are that are shaping New Zealand’s biggest city, download the infographic here.

Movember winnings give kiwi kids a sporting chance

In November, Urban Partners got in behind the annual Movember campaign with a team of 7 good men growing moustaches to raise funds for men’s health programmes and increase awareness of the health risks men face.

The Urban Partners team raised $8,810 for the Movember Foundation, the most sponsorship dollars raised by a team of 10 or less in New Zealand. The prize, $2,500 worth of adidas kit, was donated to the For Everyone Foundation, a New Zealand charity set up by Ali Williams, Dan Carter and Richie McCaw.

The For Everyone Foundation helps people to help others by funding small projects that make a big difference - encouraging active participation and boosting community spirit. Schools, clubs and community groups can apply on the For Everyone website and anyone can visit the site to vote for their favourite group.

We’re please to announce that the winner of the $2,500 prize was Waithohi JAB - Waitohi Rugby Club Juniors - based in Picton. Many of the club’s junior players come from families of limited means and the club will use the prize to provide them with shorts, socks and balls. 

Check out the video of Dan Carter announcing the winner of the $2,500 voucher below:

Urban Partners Launch New Brand

On 26th February, 130 guests joined the Urban Partners team to enjoy a spectacular sunset over the Waitemata Harbour during the launch of our new brand.

CEO Rob Marshall explained how the new brand better reflects the increased diversity of the company’s investments and where it’s heading in the future. Rob was followed by Haydn Staples, founder of Retail Holdings over 30 years ago, who shared stories about the history of the company.

Haydn Staples, Director of Urban Partners

Haydn Staples, Director of Urban Partners

Haydn also delighted the audience with a surprise announcement that a $1 million fund for Dilworth School is being established. Dilworth was opened in 1906 and has educated generations of boys whose circumstances meant they needed a helping hand in life. It’s an institution that Urban Partners has an affinity with – one that has moved with the times yet continues to take a long-term, pragmatic approach to achieving outstanding results.

The evening was a huge success, with NZ Barman of the Year, Barney Toy, impressing the crowd with his bespoke ‘Urban Partners Visionary Cocktail’ (aptly named after the new Urban Partners tagline) before guests dined on a 3-course cocktail supper at the beautiful Okahu waterfront venue.

Retail Holdings Limited looks to the future and rebrands itself as Urban Partners

“Our name change is a reflection of who we’ve become and where we’re headed,” says Rob Marshall, CEO of newly rebranded commercial property and investment company, Urban Partners.

Urban Partners Development: Spark Data Centre

Urban Partners Development: Spark Data Centre

As the name suggests, Retail Holdings Limited has a legacy of retail property investment, successfully capitalising on trends in consumer behaviour by investing in projects ranging from large format shopping centres through to boutique dining and entertainment precincts.
“Over time we’ve become much more than a retail property investment company and we want our brand to reflect that,” says Marshall. “Our name change also signals our future direction as we take on projects that are increasingly unique and diverse.”

If recent years are anything to go by, Urban Partners is already well down the path to diversification. In 2012, the company committed to manage, design, construct and fund a $60 million data centre for Spark Digital. The Prime Minister opened the state-of-the art facility in October of this year. 

“Our rebrand is not about abandoning our roots in retail,” says Marshall. “We are continuing to investigate the development options for The Promenade at Mission Bay for example, but we’re always watching for trends in the marketplace, whether it be in retail, technology or how people spend their leisure time.”

The pursuit of wellness is another significant trend that Urban Partners’ recognised the potential of early on. Over the years, the company has acquired strategic assets at Waiwera with a vision of creating a world-class wellness destination that has a mix of complementary attractions and accommodation.

The company has a long-standing philosophy of focusing first on the needs of end users - the people who visit the shops, restaurants and leisure precincts they create – before beginning any development. “It may sound obvious, but if end users enjoy the experience, the tenants' businesses will thrive, resulting in quality long-term revenue for the property owner,” says Marshall. “You’d be surprised how few developments start with that in mind.”

In a world where investing for short-term gain has become the norm, Urban Partners has built its success on taking a long-term view. “Acquiring, funding and developing high performing assets takes foresight and depth of experience,” says Marshall. “We’ve proven to the market over the past 30 years that we have both, and we’ll continue to seek out unique prospects for investment, funding and growth.”

Sparking the Digital Highway

Sparking the Digital Highway

In 2012, Spark was seeking partners to manage the design, build and lease back of a $60 million investment in NZ’s infrastructure and digital future. Alongside two other industry experts, Hawkins and AECOM, Urban Partners was selected and led the investigation into data centre facilities. Before we could start our pursuit, our first point of reference was to determine Spark’s business requirements.