Te Waha Nui report by Brooke Pita
Victoria Park Market tenants are eager for completion of major construction work at the historic Auckland market which is due to reopen early next year.
Over the past three years, the historic site on Victoria Street West has undergone refurbishment by Victoria Quarter Trust and CMP Construction Ltd. The overall cost of refurbishment is $20 million, with strengthening renovation on the 38m-high chimney costing $600,000.
Shelley Mitchell, a member of the Victoria Park Market project management team, says the project will bring a contemporary touch to the heritage site.
The project is now in stage three, which will see a stage and screen in the central courtyard.
Mitchell says she expects the final construction work to be finished between now and January next year, with the final tenants being able to move in by the end of February. The project has produced 20 new shops, which will bring the total to 79.
She says some shops have been open for business during the years of construction work.
Jeff Kim, owner of the Victoria Cartoon Barber Shop, opened his shop at Victoria Park about four months ago.
He has been a barber for 10 years, working in Japan, Tauranga, Epsom and now Auckland city.
The 50-year-old says he had been looking for a place to open his business for a year, saying Victoria Park Market was the most affordable place.
Kim says although business has been very quiet lately, he hopes completion of the project will bring lots of customers.
Ady Huang, owner of Crystal SG at Victoria Park, is also hopeful the end of the project will bring customers to the quiet park.
Huang says the Crystal SG shop has been at Victoria Park for 14 years.
“Before the development, there were heaps of people every day in the shop. It would be completely full and people would have to line up outside,” she says.
“We didn’t even have time to have lunch.”
She says she hopes it will be the same after the project is complete.
Victoria Park Market began as a rubbish depot, known as The Destructor, around 1904.
The city’s rubbish was burned using the sites chimney. Around 1908, the heat from that burning helped generate Auckland’s electricity supply.
The generators were switched off in 1913 and a council depot and stables were built.
The stables housed the horses that hauled the rubbish wagons.
The Destructor and the council offices were decommissioned in 1972.
Auckland businessman Alistair Johnston turned the site into Victoria Park Markets in 1983.