Westfield Albany
Westfield Albany is a new shopping centre of the Westfield Group in Albany, New Zealand, opposite the Albany Lakes Civic Park. Once the last sections opened in April 2008, at 7 ha (70,000 m²) of indoor space (4.9 ha retail and 2.1 ha offices), it became the largest shopping centre in New Zealand, eclipsing even recently opened Sylvia Park, and costing around NZ$ 210 million to construct. The Base, as at July 2010, NZ's second largest shopping centre at 61,000m2 will surpass Westfield Albany when the ground level of the Te Awa mall development is completed in 2011, being 75,000m2, New Zealand's first super regional centre. Westfield Albany provides over 2,000 carparks for around 150 specialty stores, as well as a large-format 2 floor 10,000 m² Farmers, a Kmart and a New World major, and also contains a SkyCity multiplex cinema and a 560 seat food court which includes major fastfood franchises. The centre has been estimated to have provided over 1,000 jobs during construction, and over 1,500 once in operation.

History and Development
The centre is Westfield's first totally new mall since entering the New Zealand market in the mid-90s. When first mooted in 2003, it was conceived as a much smaller centre, with only 20,000 sqm planned for initially, and a comparatively small later expansion of 15,000 sqm mooted for a decade later. Westfield is already planning a large further expansion of the centre. Some experts see demand for about twice the size of the current centre in retail and associated office space in the wider Albany area. However, Westfield itself has in the past put in submissions against a District Plan plan change in the area, contending that it allowed for "excessive retail provision in the Albany area" (in a northern 'mainstreet' area separate from the core where Westfield and a number of other retailers have their sites). The challenge was rejected by the Environment Court. The concept of the Albany mall is considered a (somewhat reluctant) new approach by Westfield, which has previously been accused of disregarding the outside effects of its malls, and of maximising commercial opportunities at the cost of the surrounding communities. Spurred by criticism as well as Council plans to develop a 'town centre' instead of simply providing retail areas, Westfield changed its standard greenfields-type plans for the new site, and developed a more open centre with 'main street' elements and some public areas. The change is considered a significant step away from the inward-looking shopping centres built in New Zealand in the 1990s, and North Shore Council hopes that the centre will integrate with the future growth in Albany rather than be a shopping destination alone. Westfield Albany Stage I opened 30 August 2007, with 65 shops trading. The rest of the shops opened on 01 November 2007 after a main opening ceremony attended by Prime Minister Helen Clark and Westfield Group Managing Director Steven Lowy, while the 10-screen cinemas' opening was delayed to April 2008. In July 2008, the cinemas of the centre were closed preventively by Skycity cinemas due to weathertightness reasons. Problems with the roof had already caused a single cinema to be shut a month earlier. The cinemas were reopened about a week later.

In 2008, the centre received the highest award of the New Zealand Property Council, with the judges calling the centre being one of "a new generation of its type" and having a good mix of leisure and entertainment with an emphasis on public spaces, which had been "designed to provide a focal point for the whole Albany community and beyond".

Building Activity

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    about 5 years ago via OpenBuildings.com