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Our CEO Mark Knoff-Thomas shares his insights on the changing landscape of Newmarket

Our CEO Mark Knoff-Thomas shares some insights into what will happen to Newmarket once the new Westfield Newmarket throws open its doors.

I don’t know about you, but even as a 48-year-old adult I can stand and watch large scale construction developments for ages. There is something about diggers and cranes that brings out the inner child. And right now, Newmarket has a ringside seat beside the largest retail development this country has ever seen. The first stage of Westfield Newmarket is set to open in July this year. Then well before Christmas the entire site will be fully operational. The development brings with it a plethora of new brands to the local market, and many of the more familiar brands who “popped out” will be “popping back in.” Above and beyond the new spectacular retail and hospitality mix that will be offered inside Westfield Newmarket, the billion-dollar question is – what will happen to the rest of the precinct?

Good question. To give some context, our office represents the 1,900 businesses that make up the Newmarket precinct. We’re about 33% retail, 10% hospitality, but mostly corporate and commercial and with a collective workforce of around 20,000. Our economy is fluid and expands and contracts like any other market. We have boomer quarters where sales go through the roof and then we have some results that disappoint.

Currently Broadway has fewer vacant stores than at any time during the past 5 years. We expect a flurry of vacancies to appear over the coming months as retail is reshuffled and a bunch of stores move into Westfield. It’s also fair to say that interest in Broadway from a retail tenant perspective flatlined for much of late 2017 and 2018. However, interest has undergone a resurgence as an increasing number of retail brands want to align themselves with Newmarket as it regains its title as the epicentre of New Zealand’s retail scene. So, you can expect to see a few for lease signs in the short term, followed by store fit-outs and new store openings. Our enquiries have shown that  our high-end side street destinations like Teed, Morrow, Osborne and Kent Streets, plus the ethnic eateries on Khyber Pass and the bars and restaurants on Lumsden Green will remain as they are, with little, if any movement. Over in our commercial hub, Carlton Gore Road, we will soon welcome two new eateries, a souvenir shop and a beauty store, to compliment the burgeoning hospo-scene that services our corporate sector. It’s not all roses though, and there are certainly challenges ahead – mostly of the transport kind. Hideous traffic is the new “Auckland condition”, and we certainly have our fair share of congestion issues. At the last count we had around a dozen traffic management plans underway. There are multiple strategies in play at the moment to (a) help improve traffic flows and (b) to try and shift behaviours so people consider other options to get to and from Newmarket. In the coming weeks and months there will be upgrades to various intersections and crossings in Newmarket, plus there will be more wayfinding signage installed – these initiatives will help with vehicular and pedestrian traffic flows. There are also plans in the pipeline for a comprehensive public transport campaign to promote trains, buses and active transport solutions to get here. Once Westfield is up and running, Newmarket will have around 7,000 carparks across all of our car park buildings. But having Auckland’s second busiest train station, and every major bus route servicing the south and east goes a long way to help as well.

In the theme of “Broadway is baaaaack” Freedom Furniture’s million-dollar fitout for their new flagship store is stunning, Glassons have just refurbished their near 575m2 store into a state- of-the-art-retail-heaven flagship, and the owners of The Warehouse site are reviewing design options for a massive redevelopment. Safari Group are set to commence construction of the new Ramada Hotel on Gillies Avenue in the middle of the year.

All in all its an incredibly exciting time to be in Newmarket. Our logo ‘NEWMARKET.’, really does mean Newmarket, full stop.

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