The City of Auckland lies at the center of a metro area of 1.5 million people, making it the most populous part of New Zealand and home to roughly one third of the total population of the country. Although TDR programs also exist in Wellington and Christchurch, Auckland has the most active historic transferable development rights program in New Zealand.
In the Auckland program, the sending sites are designated historic buildings. When the owners of these landmarks choose to participate, they sell the heritage floor space, meaning the difference between the actual floor area of the historic structure and the floor area that the site would be allowed by zoning if it were not a designated landmark. Receiving site developers can buy this floor area in order to achieve higher levels of development. However, transferable heritage floor area is just one of 14 ways in which developers can achieve bonus floor area. Some of the other 13 methods involve the provision of benefits that may be easier for developers to supply and/or which may directly enhance the value of the receiving site development such as artwork and landscaping. Programs in the US have been hamstrung when TDR is competing with more attractive means of achieving additional density.
Despite this drawback, the Auckland program has transferred heritage floor space from at least 18 historic buildings including the Auckland Town Hall, the Chief Post Office on Queen Elizabeth II Square, St. Matthew-in-the-City, Auckland Electric Power Board Building at 187 Queen Street, and St. Pauls Church on Symonds Street. At least 27 receiving site projects have used TDRs including the Price Waterhouse Coopers office tower at 12 High Street as well as buildings at 73-87 Customs Street West, 42 Shorthand Street and 151 Queen Street.
However, demand for heritage floor space and the price paid for heritage floor space has declined in the last decade. For example, the owners of the historic St. Matthew-in-the-City sold floor area for $107 per square meter to facilitate an 11-story residential receiving site project in 2001. But three years later, the owners of St. Mathew-in-the-City were paid only $60 per square meter of heritage floor space transferred to the Price Waterhouse Coopers office tower.
Gibson, Anne. Transfer of airspace helps owners of historic buildings. New Zealand Herald. August 12, 2009.