Amongst the things that struck me about the Arena project was both the prospect of seeing undercover ice hockey on Auckland's waterfront -- who amongst you could fail to be excited by that? -- and the history of the project. This was a project conceived way back in 1996, and is due to be completed ten years later in 2006. Ten years! And unlike Auckland's Ayatollah Centre project, and the more recent Britomart project, both of which took many, many years to traverse their fraught paths -- and many years in which whole city precincts were shut down so that each white elephant could be erected -- the Arena project has travelled relatively smoothly and promises more value for the effort involved. But it still took ten years from conception to erection: we might perhaps view that as a benchmark time scale for a large public project done under the auspices of local government when all goes well.
How does that compare with other recent high profile public projects? Badly. Aside from the many restrictions and delays imposed on them by meddling local governments, private projects generally proceed in a fairly short and straight line rather than the long, complex and often pretzel-shaped path that council projects frequently traverse.
- The St Lukes Shopping Centre was made over totally in a project worth $55 million in just two years, and without the welter of disruptions and closures attendant on the Britomart project (unlike council, private developers can't afford to piss off retailers in and around their developments).
- The first stage of the enormous $538 million Sylvia Park shopping centre -- New Zealand's largest -- will open for business in August 2006. Including the time it took for the various councils to give the project the go-ahead and to include the possibility of such a thing in their various district plans and 'growth strategies,' the first stage of the complex will have been completed without undue fuss and bother in just ten years. (Bob Dey has summary of the site's history at the bottom of this page.)
- And the $60million purpose-built Sky City Convention Centre (right) was conceived, designed and built in just three years (and probably making an enormous profit in a few more) all while council were scratching their heads, staring at their navels and wondering if a convention centre might not be a bad thing for a mayor to put his name to.