Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Chafing at the bit

I know it's not easy to think about eating and drinking in the sun at the moment, but there's finally been some official word about what's going into the ground floor of the Chaffers Dock complex, and when. When I last speculated about it, the real estate people were promoting a November opening, and as I suspected, that's turned out to be a little over-optimistic: it's now expected to open "after Christmas".

Chaffers Dock from the air, November 2006Wellington Waterfront have listed some of the food and other retail outlets that are confirmed so far:

A restaurant called Home. They describe this as offering "sophisticated, relaxed dining from breakfast to after dusk", which all sounds good. I wonder, though, what sort of price point it will be aimed at. There are several upmarket (>$30 for a main) restaurants on the waterfront, and a few pubby places, but one thing we're really lacking is a stylish but reasonably-priced café (something like Floriditas or Scopa would be ideal). Depending upon the balance between "sophisticated" and "relaxed", this might conceivably fit the bill.

Mövenpick. An ice-cream outlet of some kind was always going to be an obvious choice, but I was expecting a branch of Kaffee Eis. It's not the most local of brands, but I'm not complaining.

Subway. Ugh. If we had to have an international fast-food chain, I suppose it's not the worst around, but I'd still have preferred something local like Wishbone or Wholly Bagels. Or even better, can someone please convince Ka Pai to open a branch?

Empire Skate Shop: With the skate park being the most popular part of Waitangi Park, a skate gear shop is a natural fit for Chaffers Dock. This is presumably a branch of the one in Lower Hutt (please, no-one tell their billboard designers!).

The Italian Caffe. The wording makes it sound like this will take longer to arrive than the others. When it does, here's hoping that it does better coffee that the Waitangi Park Café.

A "gourmet seafood restaurant". This is yet to be named, and is probably still some time away. It will be on the side facing the water, and if it lives up to its description, it should be the biggest drawcard of the lot.

So, that's confirmation of three restaurants or cafes, two takeaways and a sports gear retailer. Other businesses are reported to be still in negotiation, and according to the real estate billboards around the site, there are now only two spaces remaining.

Those billboards suggest that they need something like a "deli, café, day spa, convenience store, florist" to complement the other retail offerings. I'd suggest (purely from a selfish consumer's point of view) that they could also do with a good old-fashioned fish 'n' chip shop and somewhere that does a decent Martini (if none of the confirmed restaurants do so) to fill in the gap in my Martini map. Feel free to make your own suggestions: Hadyn, I can hear yours alread...


At 9:54 am, November 15, 2006, Blogger Hadyn said...

Mövenpick is made with New Zealand milk so it's not too foreign.

A Fish and Chip shop would be grand. One like Starfish in Thorndon would probably fit best (i.e. slightly gourmet but not really) but with big chips not frites.

Having just dissed frites, what about a Franco-Greco gyro-store? Not a crappy kebab shop but a proper rotisserie pita sandwich bar. We (by which I mean "I") ate these all the time in Paris and they are perfect lunch food and would KILL Subway.

Speaking of France, what about another Bordeaux Bakery outlet?

These all seem to be eating places but I think that's what you want next to a big park. Actual retial stores probably wouldn't fair too well (other than the skate place). Maybe you could have a few designer-recycled-boutique places upstairs or an art gallery or two (I saw a similar set up off Carnaby St in London).


At 10:25 am, November 15, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

Yes, Mövenpick's not too bad really, it's just a big global brand and I've have preferred something more local.

You're right about the type of fish'n'chip shop, too: a bit smarter and higher quality that your neighbourhood greasie, but not ridiculously posh either. Maybe something like the Wellington Trawling Company in Cuba St, which includes a mini fish-market. That's the sort of thing that's planned for the Wardle buildings when they get built next door, but in the meantime, something to make up for the loss of Thorndon Seafoods in A-mart would be good.

> Speaking of France, what about another Bordeaux Bakery outlet?

That would be good, and I like the idea of somewhere like Pandoro that bakes on the premises rather than just trucking stuff in. There are a heap of local chains that I'd have chosen before Subway, but at least it's not a Macca's!

> Actual retial stores probably wouldn't fair too well

From what the real estate agents were saying, they're partly relying on regular foot traffic from Oriental Bay & Mt Vic residents walking to/from work, and partly on the proximity of Te Papa. The latter could theoretically make a big difference, if only the entrance wasn't all the way down the other end!

So, apart from weather-dependent food businesses, I see two sorts of retail working here: everyday service type places (newsagents, hair salons etc) and high-value low-volume destination retailers, like the boutiques and galleries you mention.

At 6:56 pm, November 15, 2006, Blogger Land Rovers Indoor Football Club said...

I don't suppose there was any mention of an indoor football pitch to replace the wonderful Shed 1?

Who ever goes down that part of town anyway - someone has turned the area into a swamp land with open space - yuck . . .

At 8:10 am, November 16, 2006, Blogger Hadyn said...

Couldn't you play football outside?

At 9:09 am, November 16, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

Yes, all that open space: yuck. The wetlands are one of the most interesting bits.

I get the feeling a lot more people will go down there once there are lot more things to see and do than sit on a bit of grass.

At 9:55 am, November 16, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But wait - Varnham and co. tell us we want more open grassed space to sit and, well, contemplate grass-growing... and here you are telling us we need interesting things like landscaping features, and commercial activity...

Won't someone give me a consistent opinion to hold as my own...


At 12:53 pm, November 16, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

Don't blame me! The official website says they're looking for a "cutting edge hair salon" (cutting edge, geddit?!)

Alright, a barber's then.


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