Interesting news today that Shed 35 at the Port is to be proposed as a site for a new Market within Wellington. I haven’t got a photo to hand, but for those that don’t know, Shed 35 is the last of the big old brick sheds on the waterfront, surrounded by Harbour Board land. I haven’t been inside it – but then again, unless you were a wharfie, who would have? So – what’s it like?

(Update: Map added, with shed 35 shown in red, shed 21 in orange, and shed 1 in green. The old Topcat ferry shed is shown in blue – probably the next sought after piece of harbour board land. Great place for a hotel, or a seaside market! Shed 35, on the other hand, is abit land locked, and a long walk from anywhere….)

I did have the good fortune to manage to see the inside of the old Shed 21 before Athfield Architects converted that into a set of upmarket apartments. While I’m sure that Aths have done a nice job inside, it is a real shame that shed got taken away from Wellingtonians – the sort of thing that I don’t think would be allowed today. The space inside there was fantastic – large, open void, windows admitting shafts of light, a space for all Wellington. The sort of space that doesn’t exist anywhere in Wellington now – at least, certainly not along the waterfront. As a site for a market, the old Shed 21 would certainly have been a fantastic space. As a site for apartments, it is a tragic waste for Wellington, although great for the few lucky sods who get to live there.

Our windy little city is surprisingly well off for markets right now, a big change from juste a few years ago. There is the veggie weekend market on the Willis St / Vivian St site, still popular with locals, despite the plethora of second-rate sellers of stale cauliflower. There is the much more popular market in the transition zone near Te Papa, where standard Veges mix it with the occasional sausage sizzler and random craft stalls – I think that one is Sunday only? Or is it Saturday? I keep forgetting. There was a small indoor market at the Herd St Post Office building, in the refurbished zone between old and new, but that seems to have died yet again. Honestly, that building has had more rebirths than you can shake a stick at. None of them seem to work, or last very long. And then there is the Saturday morning Frank Kitts undercover market where you can pick up a felt Dollie braided by blind hipsters, or a card with appliqué Tuis and the odd Ethnic pancake. I’m never quite sure of the point of this one – clearly I am not their target market. I want them to succeed, but again – the location seems all wrong.

So now there is a new proposal. Will Shed 35 work as a site for a market? Would the other markets keep going too, or do they need to die to make this one work? Will you have to drive there, or can they reorganize the boundaries to make it walkable? To me, that is the big question. Currently, Centre Port is cut off by a long walk down acres of Tarmac. Yet, in reality it is just a short stroll along the waterfront, past the disused waste of space that is the BNZ ground scraper and their unoccupied “public atrium” spaces that have not seen the light of day in a public sense. And then there is the curious camper van site – let’s face it, it’s empty in winter. It would be better to have a couple of good new buildings there – not sure if you caught it hidden away in the paper, but WWL is looking at planning some smaller buildings there.

Will Shed 35 have enough ooomphf to work seven days a week? It is a long way to walk, so most people would drive, but the car park is full of workers at Statistics / the new Customs building during the week, and I have a feeling that it would remain pretty barren and empty during the weekdays. It is a great idea, but the big question is: will it work? Or rather – what would it take to make it work? Your views are welcome….

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