Urban Partners

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 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.”