Garden Place concept revealed

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Friday 18 August 2017

Two Hamilton property investors and an award-winning architect have proposed a new design for Garden Place which includes two shared lanes and car parks, 43 years after cars last drove through the area.

Property investors Matt Stark and Steve McLennan, and Brian White of Edwards White Architects have proposed a design they say will “make Garden Place fit for people again” by improving pedestrian flows, adding play equipment, sculptures, more gardens and trees, two new “low speed environments” for vehicles and 40 parking spaces.

“I hated the idea of parking in Garden Place at first because your initial reaction is to picture the 1950s images of cars covering the whole area”, says Stark. “But as we discussed the possibilities we soon realised a new design could be done tastefully while also making Garden Place more vibrant and something Hamiltonians will be proud to call their city centre.” 

The design, which has been presented to Hamilton City Councillors, senior council staff and local businesses, has been unanimously praised by everyone who has seen it, says McLennan, whose family companies own property covering a quarter of Garden Place. 

“Brian was also initially hesitant about having cars in Garden Place, but we all felt it needed more activity and the empty spaces filled with people, so he and his team created an environment that’s welcoming whether you’re walking, cycling, driving, having lunch or watching your kids play.”

“CBD retail outlets are increasingly destinations in their own right, and as such their customers need convenient short-term parking which this offers along with a better experience for everyone enjoying Garden Place.”

White says the design offers a number of “rooms” in which different activities or events can take place.

“The stage is oriented in two directions to cater for small or large crowds, the lanes can be closed for events, the lawn at the rear has been retained, and play and sculpture areas added, as well as the obvious commercial and road network utility benefits created by introducing low speed shared lanes and parking.”

“We’ve designed this in a way that makes use of the existing infrastructure to keep costs down, and approached it with the intention of creating something permanent that won’t need re-hashing every decade.”

The trio has spent their own money to date, and they hope to continue finding private funds for the project with Council's support.

Hamilton Central Business Association general manager Vanessa Williams says we’re talking to a number of charitable trusts which have indicated interest in supporting the project. 

"Everyone in the area thinks it’s a great design, so hopefully the rest of Hamilton agrees!” 

Hamilton Mayor Andrew King is excited by the private sector’s involvement.

“It’s great to see the private sector supporting, and leading, investment in public infrastructure for the benefit of the city. This is a plan that can positively transform Garden Place and improve the central city.”

The design is an initial concept and, if approved by Hamilton City Council, detailed designs will be completed in the coming year.

The redevelopment of Garden Place is an action in the Central City Transformation Plan and will compliment Embassy Park and Victoria on the River (in construction) to help transform the central city.

A video of the design can be viewed at myhcc.nz/gardenplace

Click here to access a high-resolution image of the design.

Page reviewed: 18 Aug 2017 2:13pm