New approach for city centre

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    NEW strategy is being developed to revitalise Invercargill’s CBD, tying in with previous strategies to improve the inner city including the Invercargill City Council’s (ICC) stalled multi-million-dollar inner city upgrade.

    ICC city centre co-ordinator Kari Graber said the council had engaged First Retail Group, retail consultants, planners and strategists based in Wellington to develop a retail strategy to revive Invercargill’s declining CBD.

    The strategy would take an holistic approach tying in with the recommendations of previous studies, including the Blumsky Report in 2010, the CBD upgrade based on work by Pocock Design Environment in 2013 and the Southland Regional Development Strategy (SoRDS) launched last year, she said.

    “[The aim is] to develop a strategy that has teeth to it that encompasses all of that.

    “It’s not about reinventing the wheel. It’s about giving momentum to the wheel.”

    The ICC held two workshops this month owners, residents, business owners and other stakeholders in the CBD to identify the issues facing the inner city.

    Miss Graber said among the issues raised was the need for better signage, designated caravan parking, an improved nightlife and consistent business hours for retailers.

    The First Retail Group was now reviewing the feedback and would return in about a month to further the project, she said.

    A 12-stage rejuvenation master plan for the city centre based on Pocock’s work was adopted by the council in August 2013. The estimated cost of the project was about $12 million. Three years on, only stage one had been completed – altering the streetscape in Esk St between Dee St and the Cambridge Place Arcade.

    Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt said the council intended to continue with the upgrade.

    “[The project] hasn’t been binned but it may not be kept in its original form either.”

    The council wanted to ensure the upgrade and other projects planned for the inner city, including the building of an art gallery and a new hotel, all complemented each other, he said.

    The council had also focused on other opportunities which had arisen in the past couple of years, such as the building of a business house/retail space in Don St, he said.

    Former Inner City Working Party chairman Graham Sycamore said the second stage of the CBD upgrade, Esk St from the Cambridge Place Arcade to Deveron St and a section of Kelvin St, was “in limbo” until decisions were made about the location of a proposed new Invercargill Licensing Trust hotel and the future of the former Southland Times building, which could have an impact on the planned upgrade work.

    “It is disappointing [the CBD upgrade] has taken longer [than expected].”

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