The Wrong Side of my Car

The blog that wants to go obsolete

14 Oct 2020

Nicholas Street

The CBD, at least the part where all the people of more average means live, looks like a cheap-ass dystopian B movie. Dilapidated footpaths. Huge roadways everywhere. Large buildings, often with blank fa├žades facing the street. As a human you tend to feel like an interloper in such environments.

As a former resident of this area, I have a big pile of photos that urbanists may describe as demotivational.

Today, Nicholas Street. They’re pictures from last year but I’d be surprised (pleasantly) if anything changed by now.

Even though not a lot of cars use this street, the pattern language is unmistakable — stay out of the way of cars. But really, the only use is as occasional rat-run if there is a traffic jam towards the Spaghetti Junction.

The two remaining cottages are a reminder of back when this was working class housing. A bit further to the south, a lot of those were razed for slum clearance, ahem, road building mid last century.

You see all those apartments? The people living here don’t have much open space nearby, and they’re between the big, busy roadways of Cook, Hobson, Union and Nelson Street. The nearest parks are Myers Park and Victoria Park, but if you’re not young and fit, or you’re with a small toddler they are probably outside a 10 minute walk radius.

Quiet space like this is highly valuable to the people living there.

And yet, does this look like valuable space? They say surface parking is low value land use. Well, there is one rung lower — empty surface parking *1.

For the more posh we have some covered parking.

Of course no photo series from the CBD is complete without the signifier of a respectable business.

Parking at the daycare, here. Let that one sink in.

Behind the fence is a vacant slice of land (you can see the trees on Hobson Street in the background), and you can’t build anything on that strip due to the balconies to the right. This as well could make a lane between buildings. The ground floor of that building would suddenly have a lot of potential uses. (it is now, of course, used for parking).

The amount of wasted potential boggles the mind. And I just don’t understand why. There is plenty of rates money coming in. Look at the amount of apartments just in these pictures. Maybe the council can invest some of that city centre targeted rate over here. There will still be plenty left over to subsidise all the fancy stuff in Wynyard Quarter.

Meanwhile, it remains a mystery to some why apartments have such a bad rep.


(*1) 

We can learn from Auckland Council GeoMaps that this parking lot is a separate property: 10 Nicholas Street. The owner obviously doesn’t know what to do with it. Interestingly, despite that, the council thinks it is worth $810,000. I count 14 parking spots, amounting to almost $58,000 per spot.

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