A pick-and-mix America’s Cup solution
A compromise base for America's Cup teams on the Auckland waterfront is now likely to be readied for planning consent after a standoff between the Government and Auckland Council over where best to invest up to $140 million of public money.
The new plan is expected to be a pick-and-mix of elements of the two proposals publicly debated since late last year.
The Crown and council would likely go halves in whatever public money is required to develop the waterfront home for the event due to be held between 2020 and 2021.
Mayor Phil Goff and council officials met America's Cup minister David Parker and government advisers in the Mayor's office on Friday, with the parties saying afterwards they were working well together on outstanding issues.
Auckland Council had already applied for consent for a double wharf extension known as the Wynyard Basin, with support from Team New Zealand. It is based around Halsey and Hobson wharves and is close to the Viaduct and downtown.
But Parker has refused to let go of his preference, a land-based option with no wharf extensions on the old tank farm, known as Wynyard Point.
Parker has talked up publicly his progress in negotiations to find a deal with the hazardous substances company which uses the big storage tanks and has said his option could save the public millions.
However the Wynyard Point site has always laboured under negatives identified months ago by Team New Zealand — that its waters are either too shallow or too exposed to westerly winds for the America's Cup bases to launch and recover the expensive racing yachts.
Parker and the council's development arm, Panuku, have been at odds over how much the considerable bill to move the storage tanks off Wynyard Point would be and whether it could be done in time. He has had support in his position from the Save our Harbour lobby group and a councillor, Mike Lee, who oppose any extra permanent wharf encroachment onto the waters of the Waitemata.
Now Newsroom understands the sides are working on a compromise option using some of the tank farm area but still using some of the Halsey Wharf extensions.
The statement after Friday's meeting emphasised the Wynyard Basin and 'variant' options. Variant has been a word used by officials to describe the Wynyard Point option backed by Parker, and now any 'variant' on the basin plan could be argued to be what Parker was pushing all along.
Work is understood to be underway to have this option — basically a variant on both the 'variant' and the 'basin' — readied for a resource-consent application.
It is not known how much of the 75-metre extension of Halsey Wharf might be included in the latest application but it is possible the other extension, of Hobson Wharf, to house a permanent home for Team NZ, might be eliminated.
Both sides are keen for the new 'variant' to be seen as a compromise rather than one option being selected over the other.
When Auckland Council decided to back the Wynyard Basin option, with the two wharf extensions, the cost was estimated at $124 million, with a further $18m to move existing businesses and up to $80 million in America's Cup capital works downtown. The Wynyard Point option was cheaper on the first factor but much higher on the second and had "serious deliverability issues", Panuku said.
A spokesman for Parker would only say negotiations were continuing. Goff's office referred Newsroom queries to Parker's office.
Team NZ would not comment on the latest proposal, other than to say it continues to work constructively with the government and council.