$15 million Okayed for CBD Upgrade Projects

15 September 2014

Some $15 million of upgrade works are set to transform and brighten up Wellington’s CBD in the next few months – with improvements to streets and laneways – and the installation of tunnel lights to make the trip on the Cable Car even more spectacular and enjoyable.

Mojo Bond Street operator Dale Rangihaeata, Canteen Cafe owner Roy McFarlane, Urban Design manager Trudy Whitlow, Glory Hair owner Amber Gill and Deputy Mayor Justin Lester.

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Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the joys of the Lux Festival and walking in the city have catalysed ongoing improvements. “Wellington’s strength is its downtown compactness and walkability. These projects build on this strength.”

Wellington’s Deputy Mayor and acting Transport and Urban Development Committee Chair Councillor Justin Lester says approval was last week given for spending on the projects. “We’re getting to work on a whole range of relatively small projects that, collectively, should re-energise the CBD.”

Notable among the projects:

Eva and Leeds streets: This walkway between Ghuznee and Dixon streets is increasingly popular and now the focus of a burgeoning food and drink scene. The Council plans to spend $500,000 to fix the surface and also install some spectacular and imaginative lighting.

Cr Lester says the project logically follows the work done to upgrade Opera House Lane and provide an attractive, safe and lively pedestrian route between Te Aro and the waterfront. Design work is under way and onsite work should start after Christmas. 

Bond Street: About $100,000 has been budgeted for a trial ‘summer activation’ of Bond Street between Willis and Victoria streets. Tables, chairs, planters and other paraphernalia will be installed – and the intention is paint the roadway and footpaths in what Cr Lester calls a “vibrant, summer, colour”. The ‘activation’ would start after Christmas and remain in place till autumn.

Masons Lane: Some $140,000 is to be spent on this heavily-used covered walkway and stairway linking the north end of Lambton Quay with The Terrace. Cr Lester says the intention is to install better lighting and also remove the canopy at the Lambton Quay level to bring in more natural light, working with the building owners.

“This is a very busy pedestrian route but it’s dingy and uninviting – especially at night. We know that people sometimes sleep in the lane and use it as a toilet so we’re looking at ways of dealing with this problem too. We’ve had a lot of people asking us to do something about Masons Lane so we’re on to it.” Work on the upgrade is expected to start in the New Year.

Cable Car tunnels: ‘LED light show’. It is planned to spend about $160,000 on the installation of computer-controlled LED lights in the top and middle tunnels on the Cable Car route. The proposed lights will be an enhanced and permanent version of the Contact Energy-sponsored light display that wowed Cable Car passengers during the Power Plant show in March this year. All going well the light display will be switched on in time for Christmas. Different patterns can be programmed to coincide with different seasons and events.

Lower Cuba Street: Work is set to start next Monday on a $180,000 project to fix the tree pits and install more ‘street furniture’. Cr Lester says the tree pits need work to improve drainage. “We’re taking the opportunity to ‘tweak’ the shared space while we’re at it.”

More bicycle stands and new-look rubbish bins will also be installed. The work is expected to take about six weeks. The Council aims to work with local businesses to bring more activity into the street once the work is completed.

Cr Lester says he personally thinks the original shared space upgrade, completed in 2010, has been underwhelming. “We ended up with a halfway-house compromise - neither a street nor a truly shared space – so we’re working to get more people to use it as a great inner city space.”

Victoria Street: Some $11 million has been set aside for a start on work to upgrade and improve the streetscape of this major thoroughfare through the CBD. Cr Lester says design work is already under way on the planned pocket parks and other improvements between Dixon Street and Abel Smith Street. Mayor Wade-Brown says Victoria Street will see over sixty trees, street furniture and cycle facilities complementing private investment in apartments and Weltec and Whitireia’s development.

Other projects approved today by the Council’s Governance, Finance and Planning Committee include:

  • Expansion of exhibition space, Museum of Wellington City and Sea - $1.6 million
  • Further work on ‘Meet the Locals’, Wellington Zoo - $1.5 million
  • Installation of LED traffic lights - $407,000
  • Replacement of about 950 removable seats (that have reached the end of their serviceable lives) in the TSB Arena - $650,000.