SCENE, March 4,1996
Auckland City Council and tourist promotor William Reid have signed an agreement allowing Mr Reid to open the first 62 meters of a series of tunnels under Albert Park, and to investigate their suitability for further development
Mr Reid wants to develop the tunnels as a tourist attraction that could include underground shops, markets, offices, parking, and a museum for artefacts.
The tunnels were built during World War II as air raid shelters which could hold more that 20,000 people. Apart from the main tunnel running from Constitution Hill to Wellesley Street, there is a labyrinth of smaller tunnels forming the actual shelters, first aid posts, toilets, and air shafts.
Mr Reid has been given first right to negotiate a long term development agreement with council. The final go-ahead is subject to councils approving the details of the proposed development.
Councillor Astrid Malcolm, chairperson of the Recreation and Community Services Committee says the signing of the agreement is a step forward for both Mr Reid and Council, after disagreement over future development rights halted progress of the project in 1988.
By Frances Grant
NZ Herald, 24 May 1996
Old air raid shelter tunnels under Albert Park could help to solve parking and transport problems in central Auckland, say a group of Auckland University Architecture students.
They have produced a range of transport proposals for the Second World War tunnels which are also the subject of plans by an Auckland butcher and tourist promoter, Mr Bill Reid.
A senior student, Mr Cristopher Blair, said the project was the idea of asenior lecturer of the School of Architecture, Dr Garry Tonks, who saw the potential to integrate the tunnels into a wider transport system.
Their proposals include using the 600m-long main tunnel as a link from a public transport terminal to the central city
Mr Blair said the tunnel running from the bottom of Constitution Hill to Victoria St East was close to the railay station and an obvious link from the city fringe to its centre, and would avoid the controversy surrounding the proposed Britomart development.
A public transport terminal in Stanley St valley would be "more financially viable". I could be built without having to dig down to the water table, change railway tracks or demolish historic buildings, he said.
The Constitution Hill end of the tunnel could open to a light rail loop though the cetral business district.
Mr Reid, who holds the right to negotiate the development of the blocked-up tunnels, said he was taking the students proposals 'very seriously".
While he wanted to transform the tunnels into a tourist attraction with underground shops, blackwater rafting, a glowworm grotto, and museum, "if what the students come up with can be done by the year 2000, then I'm interested".