Michael Fowler Centre carpark development

On 30 September 2021, the Council agreed to the key commercial terms on a 175-year ground lease for the Michael Fowler Centre carpark with Willis Bond.

Drawn proposal of the green building to go in the Michael Fowler Centre carpark.

This partnership will enable Willis Bond to create a multi-level, green building surrounded by outdoor landscaping and public spaces, making better use of this inner-city area.

The proposed building will be approximately 15,000sqm in size which could provide residential or commercial spaces. The lower levels are likely to include retail or hospitality to attract more people. Landscaping will provide green spaces and shelter for the public and create stronger links with lower Cuba Street and Wellington’s waterfront.

Leasing the carpark site was adopted in the 2015-25 Long-term Plan (volume one, page 62) as a way to revitalise Te Ngākau Civic Precinct which would not require additional funding from the Council or ratepayers. In 2016 we carried out a public tender process and selected Willis Bond as the preferred development partner.

Planned progress on the development was halted while we assessed all Te Ngākau Civic Precinct’s structures following the Kaikoura earthquake. We then used the site to build temporary rehearsal space for the Royal New Zealand Ballet to use, while the St James Theatre strengthening work could be carried out.

The development agreement was reconfirmed in the 2021 – 2031 Long-term Plan, and the Council adopted the commercial terms on 30 September 2021.

What the proposed development will create

Willis Bond will now develop a Resource Consent application which proposes to:

  • build a minimum 5 GreenStar rating building. The proposal will include:
    • base isolators for earthquake resilience
    • raised ground floors to cope with rising sea levels from climate change.
  • develop landscaping and green spaces to provide shade and welcoming spaces
  • remove the overbridge to the James Smith Carpark which was closed after the Kaikoura earthquake.

The site will retain several accessible carparks near the Michael Fowler Centre people can use when attending events.

If they meet the resource consent criteria, Willis Bond plans to begin work on-site in late 2022/early 2023.