Written by John Williams
Santa’s appearance on the roof of Ponsonby Central has become a bit of an event around these parts. And it’s fair to say he’s caused a bit of a stir in years gone by, so what’s with the bicycle this year? According to Andy Davies, cycling’s the new cool, and we should all get into it.
“We live in an inner city urban community, and I’m trying to encourage people to ditch their cars for a little bit, and walk and bike to their local shopping destination – come to our produce market, have something to eat, have a couple of wines, then cycle home afterwards,” he says.
Bike Friendly Destination.
Over the past few months, the crew at Ponsonby Central have be working with Auckland Transport on a number of bike-focussed activities that will take place over the holiday period – such as pop-up mechanics, where you can get a valet service for your bike while you shop or eat in Ponsonby Central.
“If you ride a bike, you’ll want to come to Ponsonby Central,” says Davies. “The ridgelines are almost flat, and are perfect for cycling along. They connect Herne Bay to Ponsonby; Ponsonby to K-Rd and into Grafton, through to the domain. And Ponsonby Central’s in the perfect spot – you can grab your bike, pop into Ponsonby Central, buy a picnic from Bird on a Wire and a bottle of wine from Wine Direct, cycle off to the domain, then come back and have dinner at Blue Breeze, or one of our other eateries. It’s the perfect day out,” he laughs.
Ponsonby Central - What's Next
“Stage two is the final stage of Ponsonby Central, and it’s been three years in the planning,” says Davies. “It’s going to be where the car park is now, and have four levels underground, with 155 car parks, and 1200sqm of retail on the ground floor, with two floors of offices above that. There’ll be lifts and a new bridge that connects through to the Sapphire Room, which means we’ll have disabled access to the Sapphire room for the first time.” And, at the request of the Auckland Urban Design Panel, there will also be a new café that opens onto the under-utilised Brown Reserve.
Davies says he’s pushing to start Stage Two at the beginning of March, and to be able to offer parking in the new building at the beginning of December 2017. The new building on top will probably take a further six months to erect.
“Auckland Council is keen for us to cause as little disruption as possible, and to have car parking available in the new building as a priority. As a consequence, we are using sheet piling, a new method of construction, which is very quick. So, there will be some parking by this time next year, with access from Brown Street,” he adds.
He admits that there is going to be disruption, but insists the car park is needed and Auckland Council wanted it. He also says the resident parking initiative is being brought forward on the strength of his development.
Good News For Locals.
“In the long run, this will help the local residents reclaim their streets for parking."
On Ponsonby Road there will be time limited parking, creating a higher turnover of cars, and that will help the retail outlets along the strip. There will also be increased public transport services, to encourage people to take the bus rather than use their cars,” he says.
There is not much that hasn’t been thought about, and the plan for the expansion of Ponsonby Central fits right in with the proposed Ponsonby Road Master Plan, where the long term aim is to have dedicated bike lanes along Ponsonby Rd that connect to the existing cycle network.
“It’s about realising that there has been a cultural shift away from cars,” says Davies. “There are so many more people cycling these days. And it’s a perfect time to support this movement.”
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