The first steps to restoring Hastings' city centre "to the glory it once held" were put in motion last night, when more than 100 local business people came together to collaborate and connect to create a vibrant CBD.
The Hastings City Centre networking function held at BWR Chartered Accountants was one of the year's first events held as part of the Hastings District Council Vibrancy Plan for the city centre.
During a speech to the crowded room last night, Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule said there were some challenges ahead to revitalise the CBD, which would require some tough calls and some brave people.
"We're on the cusp of some fundamental changes," he said.
Like last night's function, the plan to revitalise the CBD was about building relationships, as Mr Yule said "in services, trades, and businesses, we need each other".
There was confidence in the Heretaunga plains, in Hastings' sports facilities, and amenities, and with "new opportunities emerging on a daily basis", Mr Yule said people now needed to have some confidence in Hastings city.
"We can easily restore the CBD to the glory it once held."
Mr Yule said council needed to focus on earthquake strengthening older buildings, concentrating retail space, and creating new precincts.
With the help of local businesses, and stakeholder groups like Hastings City Business Association, Creative Hastings, and Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce, the Vibrancy Plan aims to connect people and businesses to give the city centre a "kick-start".
Increasing the number of people in the CBD is one of the areas of focus, as well as helping more businesses grow and invest in the area.
Hastings City Business Association general manager Susan McDade said "fantastic" progress had already been made.
"The vibrancy plan is such a fantastic example of collaboration with council, businesses, and stakeholders," she said. "It's been fantastic, it shows we can't do it on our own. If we collaborate that's when we're going to move forward."