Negotiations on America's Cup syndicate bases to go down to the wire
The two-week extension for submissions on Auckland Council’s resource consent applications for America’s Cup bases and a village in Wynyard Basin could push negotiations over the three options still on the table to their limit.
The council says its resource consent applications remain unchanged and the submissions extension is to allow for work on the base options under consideration and to “consider any implications for the consenting process should there be a requirement to do so.”
There is no definitive green light for the three options – the council’s notified plan for eight bases in Wynyard Basin agreed with Team New Zealand costing $201 million, Economic Development Minister David Parker’s plan for seven bases in a hybrid village using Wynyard Point and Wynyard Basin costing $185 million and Team New Zealand’s plan it claims will cost $50 million less.
And last week landowner Viaduct Harbour Holdings (VHH) threw in a last-minute alternative to locate the Team New Zealand base on Halsey Wharf and all the visiting team bases on Wynyard Wharf.
VHH chief executive Angela Bull says the proposal is a cost-effective alternative to the government’s hybrid plan and will have “significantly less encroachment” into the Waitemata Harbour.
Ms Bull says she is “deeply concerned” about the proposed extensions to the Halsey Wharf and the Hobson Wharf into the Waitemata Harbour.
“The council proposal is to build large 75-metre wharf extensions and 15-metre high team bases, which extend across the waterfront and will block off the public view and community connection with the Waitemata Harbour – an integral part of the vibrant Viaduct hub.”
Earlier in the year, the council went ahead with lodging its resource consent applications for a Wynyard Basin village, which Mr Parker criticised and then determinedly pursued the opening up of Wynyard Point’s tank farm for land-based syndicate bases.
He got agreement from major leaseholder Stolthaven to leave its petroleum and chemical terminal site early. By this time Auckland Mayor Phil Goff had climbed on board with the hybrid model. There was no mention at the time on plans to persuade ASB Bank to give up its car park adjacent to the Stolthaven terminal.
Mr Goff said the agreement with the Dutch company to vacate its site early reduced the proposed extension to Halsey Wharf from 75 metres to 35 metres.
But there have been questions over how much the lease termination will cost the council and whether the land, presuming it needs remediation other than what Stolthaven is liable for, will be ready in time for the America’s Cup regatta.
Auckland Council and Team New Zealand's preferred option for America's Cup bases at Wynyard Basin.
The council is working to a tight timetable agreed with Team New Zealand to have the bases ready by summer next year for the arrival of the first syndicates for training and testing of boats.
When Mr Parker and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff announced the hybrid plan, with five bases on the point, Team New Zealand dismissed it as unworkable and said it was surprised at the announcement as discussions were continuing and no final decision had been made.
In fact, Team New Zealand put up its own bases plan a day before the hybrid announcement. And Auckland councillors were given a briefing only two hours before then.
Council staff and government officials are still working on the cost, timing and deliverability of the options and the council and government still have to come to an agreement on the cost-sharing split for the event.
There is still also the question of the event hosting fee Team New Zealand wants but there has been little movement on that recently as the racing syndicate presumably has other things on its mind.