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Auckland to take on the techs

​Australasia is lacking a global tech hub for creative occupiers; the “fight” is down to Auckland, Melbourne and Sydney. International technology trends expert Michael Davis believes Auckland is much better suited.



Long term investment with development potential/new-zealand/en-gb/news/916/long-term-investment-with-development-potentialAUCKLANDLong term investment with development potential
Former Fire Station on high profile corner site/new-zealand/en-gb/news/915/former-fire-station-on-high-profile-corner-siteCHRISTCHURCHFormer Fire Station on high profile corner site

Following a recent visit to New Zealand from his Central London base, Michael Davis, international technology trends expert and Head of London Unlimited at JLL, considers there to be a lack of technology hubs in Australasia. He believes Auckland is poised to become the next city of emerging markets, with the potential to lead Asia Pacific.

According to Michael, the reason why tech hubs grow quickly around the world tends to be down to culture, appreciation of the arts, fashion and design, as well as new technology, all of which make up the disposition of Auckland. Michael considers Australasia to be underprovided in terms of a “tech hub” where creative occupiers can cluster, and says it is down to a competition between Auckland, Sydney or Melbourne; he believes Auckland is much better suited.

Michael travels the globe regularly on business to engage with new developments in the practice area technology trends. Head of  London Unlimited at JLL, he has spent 13 years in the Central London market advising creative and technology occupiers on their portfolio, leasing, investment and development strategies. 

“My first impression of Auckland was that the architecture has commonality with East London and Brooklyn in that there is a strong stock of mid-Century brutalist buildings that were built to last, they just need re-orientating for this generation. City Works Depot and Ponsonby Central, for example, have been successfully repositioned for creative occupiers and appeal to the style-and food-conscious people of today,” says Michael. 

Michael sees the potential of Auckland to become a tech hub in the future, but suggests some adaptation in the office market is needed: “Auckland has a legacy of older buildings, a lot of which are now in their 30s and have had their time. Owners of older properties can take this opportunity to adapt their space to accommodate for emerging markets in the future by repositioning older buildings to be cost-effective incubators to facilitate small businesses before they scale up. ”

Mark Grant, Chief Operating Officer & Head of Markets for JLL New Zealand says “Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter offers the perfect potential to create such a hub, with the blend of office, apartment living and amenity that will be offered as this area grows and develops. The blend and mix of established tech companies together with the incubator and start-ups in this dynamic sector have the potential to establish this vision”. 

James Thorburn, Associate Director at JLL who specialises in office leasing in central Auckland, says, “We are at a prime point in the market where the city is evolving and developing, creating a lot of opportunities for landlords to adapt their current strategies. If a landlord has a building that is earmarked for redevelopment, but wanted short-term income, there is the potential to place an innovative growth business on a very ad hoc flexible lease. Alternatively, if a landlord has a portfolio of properties, it could declare one building the accelerator, incubator space and the remainder of the portfolio will benefit when that occupier grows.”

When asked what the benefits are for tenants taking space in a tech hub, Michael says they benefit from an agglomeration economy and the collaborative tech environment that is created by a creative cluster of tech businesses: “When you get a collective of creative companies in the one area, the environment facilitates the exchange of ideas and encourages co-working spaces and a culture of can-do.”

Demand for newly refurbished properties by high-tech businesses is gaining traction in Auckland’s tight market, according to James. GridAKL is the innovation precinct for Auckland. ATEED (Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development) is responsible for delivering GridAKL on behalf of Auckland Council. GridAKL has kicked off with an initial development of a tech hub that opened in May 2014. Later this year the John Lysaght Building will open as the next phase of the innovation precinct. ATEED is also working with Precinct Properties regarding the future development of GridAKL as they initiate their redevelopment of the wider Wynyard Quarter commercial development.  

“Surrounding GridAKL, Precinct Properties will redevelop and build another four state-of-the-art office buildings in a campus style development targeting high-growth innovative businesses. The space will be architecturally and culturally interesting and part of a world class, efficient and sustainable environment,” says James. 

James continues, “Demand for quality A-grade space is increasing, but supply is predicted to be sufficient in the future pipeline. Apart from the Wynyard Quarter, there is limited evidence of an alternative offering, which allows for so much flexibility and growth.”