Unlocking city centre's potential

By Matthew Martin

6 comments
ON THE GROUND: A view looking down Hinemoa St. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED
ON THE GROUND: A view looking down Hinemoa St. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

Work on phase two of the new look Rotorua City Focus should begin by late May with a request for tenders for construction work to go out on Monday.

Rotorua Lakes Council has budgeted between $1 million and $1.2 million for the entire project that will see the Focus opened up to through traffic with new plaza-style landscaping.

The council's strategy and partnerships group manager Jean-Paul Gaston said refreshing the City Focus was one of many key issues within the inner city which retailers started considering back in October 2013.

"Rotorua residents, visitors, workers and businesses told the council that they wanted a vibrant city, a city that cares about the environment, has a strong economy, supports the arts and that connects its people to each other and the rest of the world.

"The strategy aims to unlock the city centre's potential so it becomes a place people will want to go - a place that welcomes everybody," he said.

The council approved a plan in November 2015 for phase one, which involved demolishing the building in City Focus and, at the request of the Inner City Steering Group and block champions, the removal of the shade sails.

Contractors completed the work mid-December.

"We will be putting tender documents for phase two of the City Focus Refresh project out on Monday with a closure date of Tuesday, April 26.

"Timeframes for a project start are dependent on the selected contractors, but we would expect this to be around the end of May."

Mr Gaston said construction would see a major change to the look and feel of the city centre - as shown in artist's impressions released to the Rotorua Daily Post yesterday.

"In the meantime, we will soon be removing the artwork on the pillars at Hinemoa St and taking them out to Rotorua Airport to go on display. With regard to parking, at the request of the Quest to have a guest drop-off, and after discussion with adjacent retailers who supported their request, we have lost only three parking spaces."

Mr Gaston said the City Focus refresh was part of the Rotorua 2030 vision to create a vibrant city heart to attract people and activities to Rotorua and requests for better traffic flows and sightlines to other businesses increased. He said it would have the "wow" factor and the final design incorporated the feedback and design elements from hundreds of people.

Redevelopment of City Focus has come under some criticism in the past with former Rotorua mayor Grahame Hall, who spearheaded the original development in 1994, saying it was a "whimsical project" and a waste of money.

"I think it is a tragedy for Rotorua, not because I put it there, but by taking it down they are going to end up going back to the bad old days 20 years ago with traffic driving through and little regard to pedestrians."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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