Once or twice a month Inner City Focus Group spokesman Mike Steiner is asked what commercial properties are available in Rotorua's CBD.

Not that long ago he would rattle off a number of vacant spaces to the caller but these days he is hard-pressed to come up with suggestions.

"We've turned it round," Mr Steiner said. "Four years ago we were a city in crisis. We had surplus stock - there were 69 available shops in the CBD, now we're down to 24 [excluding the Hinemoa Arcade].

"Four years ago there was also a very unsavoury element to the CBD that is no longer there.

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"We have a myriad of new businesses that have opened and, with the completion of Manawa [former City Focus], I believe there will be renewed vigour in the CBD."

He is adamant the ability to see and traverse the length of both Hinemoa and Tutanekai streets without the impediment of City Focus will be of enormous benefit to store owners, locals and tourists.

"Rotorua's CBD was difficult to navigate. Manawa will not only double the amount of public space, it will create a better flow for pedestrians and drivers."

Mr Steiner also expects the new layout will encourage new business to the area.

"Right now Rotorua is enjoying the opposite of what many other towns and cities in New Zealand are experiencing. We have people wanting to come here and start a business, we have population expansion and there is a very positive vibe about the place.

"People are asking me what our secret is. I believe we are finally on our way."

Another to extol the city's virtues was councillor Karen Hunt who sees the most significant change within the CBD as the number of businesses moving into Rotorua from other areas and local businesses relocating from the outskirts of the city into the city centre.

"For years we have watched Hinemoa St become sadder and sadder, now it is one of the top streets in the inner city," she said.

"Base Camp, Steam and Helium have moved into the space and all within the past year.

"At the other end of Hinemoa St we have a new cafe, a barista training place and a dance studio. A Turkish kebab eatery relocated as the owner had heard Hinemoa St was the place to be."

Ms Hunt said the Hinemoa Arcade had, for a long-time, significantly contributed to the city's over-supply.

"Unfortunately the building commenced at the beginning of a global financial downturn and it has never really recovered."

However, news that one of about 29 arcade units had recently sold at a mortgagee sale was promising.

"It's often the case it only takes one to start the ball rolling."

Harcourts commercial agent Paul Sanford confirmed the 80sq m shop had recently sold.

He said the new owner was overseas and could not confirm what plans were for the premises.

Ms Hunt said the approaching completion of Manawa would also be great for the CBD.

"The rain that has been our constant companion will be beaten. I must give credit to the business owners and the community who have taken the disruptions on the chin. Their perseverance and patience will be rewarded once Manawa is finished."

She added a number of things were starting to happen and agreed there was a really good vibe about the place.

"That's what we're hearing from both long-term Rotorua residents and people new to the city."