A view over the main carparking and length of the centre, with the cinemas and railway station at the right rear.
|Location||Mount Wellington, New Zealand|
|Opening date||6 June 2006; 9 years ago|
|No. of stores and services||>200|
|Total retail floor area||71,000 m²|
|No. of floors||2|
Sylvia Park is a large business park and shopping centre in the Auckland suburb of Mount Wellington, in New Zealand. Less commonly known, the area around the centre (which includes some residential and other commercial developments) is also called Sylvia Park (the centre takes its name from the area, not vice versa, but Sylvia Park is not officially a suburb). The area is located adjacent to two major interchanges of the Auckland Southern Motorway – the South-Eastern Highway (which passes directly through the shopping centre on a viaduct) and Mount Wellington Highway.
Land and store space in the Sylvia Park development is let out to a wide variety of major retailers, with key tenants including The Warehouse Group, Hoyts Cinemas, Whitcoulls bookstore and Dick Smith Powerhouse as well as the Pak'nSave and Countdown supermarkets. In addition, the centre has franchises of all major New Zealand banks and a wide variety of other retailers. The centre employs approximately 2,500 staff of which only four are security guards and was drawing about 12,000 shoppers at a time during the weekends of the 2007 winter months.
In a rating of New Zealand shopping centres by a retail expert group in 2008, Sylvia Park received four stars, the maximum rating, based on the criteria of amount of shopping area, economic performance, amenity and appeal as well as future growth prospects. Especially praised were the wide catchment of shoppers and the motorway accessibility.
The name Sylvia Park is from the large country house / stud farm built here in the late 19th century. It was the country residence of Sir Maurice O'Rourke, one of the first Speakers of the House. Sir Maurice used the land primarily for horse breeding. The house was demolished in the 1960s. From 1943 until 1992, Sylvia Park was the site of an extensive Army supply stores complex built by the American Forces during WWII. After the war these buildings were used by the NZ Defense Forces and a mix of industrial users. The buildings, which gradually became empty, were demolished for the shopping mall. <'US military forces in New Zealand map', URL: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/interactive/us-military-forces-new-zealand, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 14-Oct-2014> Carbine Road is named after the racehorse Carbine who was foaled at Sylvia Park Stud.
The development is owned by Sylvia Park Business Centre Ltd (SPBCL), a subsidiary of Kiwi Income Property Trust. The development is situated on 24 hectares of land, a large part of which is still to be developed as of the late 2000s. KIPT acquired the land in two transactions in 1995.
However, the land was at that stage zoned for industrial use by the Auckland City Council. The developers asked the council to modify the district plan to allow high-density commercial use, a change which the council supported, and drafted into 'Plan Change 4'. However, the plan change was opposed by the Ngati Maru Iwi authority, which represents Māori interests in the area. A December 2001 decision of the Environment Court confirmed the plan change. Demolition and construction began in 2004, with retail construction beginning in 2005.
Stage One of the development opened to the public on 6 June 2006. The opening received nationwide television and radio coverage the day before, as the development is one of the largest in New Zealand. This resulted in a very high shopper turnout on the opening day, and despite planning by SPBCL, caused severe gridlock on the notoriously busy Auckland Southern Motorway as well as major arterial routes in the vicinity of the centre, including the South-Eastern & Mount Wellington Highways. Transit New Zealand and SPBCL took the unusual step of recommending people postpone trips to the mall. As part of the conditions of being granted planning permission SPBCL was required to manage traffic flows to the site, and had the traffic jams continued would have faced an accelerated timetable for upgrading key roads. The congestion did force SPBCL to implement a traffic monitoring programme ahead of schedule. Stage Two of the development opened in August 2006 and expanded the fashion, beauty and food retailers of the centre.
In contrast to the initial interest, weekday retail sales were soon considered to be flagging, with the centre being nicknamed 'Spooky Park' by some. The owners noted that this did not extend to weekend sales, and that the centre had in the meantime gained during the weekdays as well.
NZ's biggest mall
Stage Three was opened 29 March 2007, and included a cinema (along with the biggest 35 mm permanent movie screen in the world, according to the Guinness World Records), Borders bookstore, 45 new stores, as well as bars and restaurants.
When Stage Three opened, it brought to New Zealand 26 stores which were either new to New Zealand or did not yet have stores in shopping centres, including a Playboy Style Boutique, Timberland Store and General Issue.
Stage Four opened in June 2007, and finished the retail area of the centre, which now has 200 shops covering 6.5 ha of indoors space and is valued at NZ$450 million. Sylvia Park's reign as the largest New Zealand shopping centre was however short, with the opening of the larger Westfield Albany on 1 November 2007, which has fewer stores (150 approx.), but covers a larger area, although not all owned by Westfield. The Base in Hamilton is also larger than Sylvia Park with the July 2010 opening Te Awa mall development.
The opening of the relocated Sylvia Park Train Station in July 2007, directly to the east of the shopping centre, as required by the resource consent of the centre, now links Sylvia Park to destinations along the Eastern Line with at least half-hourly frequency.
The opening of Stage Five was planned for 2008 and to add NZ$ 200 million of office space in four separate buildings. Kiwi Income noted that it had always planned to develop offices around the perimeter of the centre, but had delayed this until the retail was starting to take off.
- Gibson, Anne (28 June 2007). "$200m Sylvia Park office plan". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
- Gibson, Anne (7 July 2008). "How your shopping mall rates against the rest". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
- Sylvia Park shopping centre (from Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Accessed 2008-06-07.)
- Binning, Elizabeth (12 June 2006). "Stay away, mall tells shoppers". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
- Bernard Orsman and Anne Gibson (17 June 2006). "Sylvia Park may face bill for jams". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
- "Auckland multiplex screen a Guinness World Record". The New Zealand Herald. NZPA. 28 March 2007. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
- Drinnan, John (12 February 2007). "Hoyts thinks big in battle to attract moviegoers". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
- Trevett, Claire (29 March 2007). "45 new stores add cinema, food and fun to mega mall". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
- Dearnaley, Mathew (2 July 2007). "Next stop, shopping ... big centre gets its own rail station". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
- Sylvia Park (official centre website)
- Silvia Park, Auckland (development website of Kiwi Income Property Trust)