In last week's post about hospitality trends, I mentioned projections of a further 3000 inner-city restaurants residents (oops, Freudian slip!) in the next 2-3 years, and that this increase alone should be enough to support many new bars and restaurants. Where did that projection come from? I noted the figure down after seeing it in a real estate market analysis a while back, but I can't find that study online. In any case, I wondered how firm such a projection could be.
So I decided to do my own unofficial estimates, based solely upon new buildings that are already in the pipeline. I estimated the number of bedrooms in all apartment, townshouse and hotel developments that either have been completed since this year's census, are under construction, or where the site is at least undergoing preparation. I then multiplied this by 0.8, to allow for the fact that not all bedrooms will be inhabited. I used the same adjustment for hotels, even though room occupancy rates are usually a bit lower than that, since some rooms are occupied by couples and hotel residents are likely to eat out more often than locals.
This gave me an estimate of over 1700 new residents, based solely upon developments that are already underway. There's room for approximately another 1300 residents in other proposals that are still either undergoing consent (such as the Hilton) or have been approved but show no sign of immediate construction (like the Watermark update: that's now confirmed). That adds up to ... well, just over 3000 extra inner city dwellers, many of whom will be moving in within a year.
I created a map to show just the first 1700, to show where the most likely and imminent population increases will be. Each red dot represents a new resident, shown randomly distributed within 100m of their home-to-be.
There are some fairly strong patterns here. Most of the growth will be in Willis St, southern and eastern Te Aro, and near the waterfront from Te Papa to Oriental Parade. Lower Cuba St is pretty quiet for now, and the Lambton Quarter is generally static after many years of apartment developments along the Terrace.
What is that strange green fungus growing underneath? Long-time WellUrbanites might recognise that as my "green map" from nearly a year ago: the brightest green shows areas of urban green space, with expanding rings of paler green showing increasing distance from those spaces, while grey areas are more than 300m from the nearest patch of public lawn. There's one big cluster of new developments (Century City, Monvie) near western Courtenay Place, so if you believe that compact local parks are an important amenity for city dwellers, then the proposed park upgrade seems very timely. Submissions close tomorrow!
But one area stands out as a potential problem: deep into SoCo, near the corner of Vivian and Tory, several hundred people are about to move into the greyest part of Wellington. In fact, there are no quality public spaces here at all. I've already suggested three sites near upper Tory St that could potentially be turned into pocket parks or local squares, and there's another one between Lorne and Tennyson streets that might also work. While Cobblestone Park could definitely do with its planned upgrade (and the map shows plenty more residents on the way), I still believe that SoCo should be the greatest priority for urban design and public amenity improvements.