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Future Looks Grim For Aotea Square Markets

Future Looks Grim For Aotea Square Markets

By Frances McAdam

The future of the popular Friday and Saturday Aotea Square markets hang in the balance as neither the council nor the Edge can guarantee their return to Auckland’s CBD in 2010.

The Aotea Square redevelopment will begin in November as part of Auckland’s CBD Into The Future strategy, a 10 year plan designed to enhance the urban, cultural and business environment of the area which is the city’s entertainment precinct.

The plan involves the repair of the Civic car park roof, an upgrade of Aotea Square and alterations to the entrance of the Aotea Centre.

This redevelopment has upset the market residents as they have not yet been offered a replacement site while the square is unavailable, nor have they had any guarantee they can return to the square once the upgrade is complete.

There are about 70 permanent store- holders, along with casual week-to-week holders. For many store-holders, the markets are their main source of income. One store owner, named as Joe says it’s like facing redundancy for many owners.

“We were originally told we would be relocating for two years, but we have had no reassurances”.

“People in the burbs’ just love to come and check us out, we’re different, we’re unique and I bet is you ask enough people we are part of Auckland’s culture,” says Joe.

Jimmy ‘The Donut’ Bollveld has owned as donut store at the markets since they begun seven years ago. He has watched the square transform from a place where people would fear to tread, to one that is awash with all kinds of people every Friday and Saturday.

“Every major city in the world has a market, and this is ours.”

“Most of us here work like Trojans, 40 hours over three days to maintain this spot as a meeting place, a social place; in essence we are a destination.”

Auckland city councillor Graeme Easte has been working with the store holders to find an acceptable alternative that satisfies all parties.

“There is no doubt the market brought new life into the city, something we don’t want to lose even if the markets are moved indefinitely.”

In the middle of this debate is the Edge Convention Centre who lease out the square to the stall holders. They have looked for alternatives venues as the store holders want to move as a group but have been unable to find anything suitable.

Graeme Easte says the Edge has offered no long-term commitment to ensuring the markets survival, and their return.

At the moment the council is facilitating discussion between store owners and the Edge.

Graeme Easte says the markets are a critical asset to Auckland City, an asset that will be lost if the markets do not return.

“It has taken years for the market to build up the kind of working community that it has now, if we abolish the Aotea Square markets we will have to start again from scratch.”

Store Owner Joe says the markets are all about energy, something which people notice as they move through the markets.

“These markets are driven by the people and not from those upstairs.”


Frances McAdam is an AUT University journalism student -ENDS-

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