Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

Mayoral candidates' views on CBD empty shops

5 comments
The City Focus mid-July during demolition work.
The City Focus mid-July during demolition work.

Rotorua's seven mayoral candidates respond to the number of empty shops in Rotorua's CBD, as it's revealed there are currently 84.

Frances Louis:

Council is a government department - a crown entity. There's the problem right there. The law is not people focused, but greed focused.

Engage families to claim this area as their own, but don't use the law to foster this engagement, use people skills such as courtesy, consideration and common sense.

Get the schools to allow their prefects to monitor some areas, have them wear a uniform these teens designed themselves and any donations to go to their school.

Step back and let our rangatahi handle their legacy.

Our city fathers can monitor it all from CCTV cameras that are planted all over town.

Everyone must work to make our town into the 8th Wonder of the World that it once was.

Rangimarie Kingi:

It's time Rotorua residents walked around their areas to see the facts before them in self education.

Rob Kent:

Retailers are attracted only to areas of high pedestrian count so they can maximise face-to-face business.

Filling the CBD is therefore reliant on attracting pedestrians with dollars to spend into the area. Full shops will follow.

Pedestrians are attracted by easily accessible free parking; by clean, vibrant, safe and modern (or historic) surroundings and ambiance, and by the quality and variety of available merchandise, food and beverage outlets, and facilities.

The CBD needs proper planning, not badly located cycle-ways, and safety nightmares such as the City Focus replacement.

It needs to encourage and facilitate redevelopment, such as up-market apartments, without imposing cost escalatory building restrictions and policies such as Wood First.

It needs free parking. It needs a free bus continually circuiting the CBD to connect with suburban feeder services.

It needs to get behind buying locally, and as Professor Stevens has already pointed out, we need to lift the quality of our offerings and marketing to international standards.

Reynold Macpherson:

The Inner City Revitalisation project apparently has had some positive but temporary and marginal effects.

At the project's high point in January this year, when 20 shops had been filled, about $529,000 had been committed for the Green Cycleway, $1.2 million for the coming City Focus intersection and $26,000 for the aluminium Christmas tree.

Was it a wise investment? The expenditure totals $1,775,000, or $88,750 per shop filled.

With six departures since January the strategy has lost $523,000 of ratepayers' money forever.

The portfolio has the rest of its $10 million to spend.

A fresh strategy is essential.

Mark Gould:

Establishment and promotion of a food court in Rotorua CBD.

Need to have a meeting with owners of properties in the CBD to adjust rates to a level where business owners can put in more stock resulting in more sales and more staff.

Make Rotorua a better place to shop. More people, less empty shops.

Problem has been the internet due to the digital age.

On the whole, young people tend to shop by price, they do a lot of their shopping online.

Older people are more interested in feeling and looking at items to purchase.

Yes, council can arrange meetings with landlords to discuss rates/rents.

Use the City Focus for more community groups and outside performers.

Farmers Market on a Sunday at City Focus is too small of an area and the lack of car parking due to inner city churches, staff on a Sunday parking outside their work, and non enforcement of parking regulations.

Steve Chadwick:

There is more to do.

We have come a long way with a councillor-led portfolio and a community steering group setting and leading implementation of our plan after extensive engagement.

Restoring intersections and gardens, public artwork, and the plan for the City Focus are well underway to make it an attractive, fresh, walkable and exciting place to visit and work.

Our plan is working.

The newly formed council controlled organisation will focus on growing a diverse economy as well as business attraction.

We need things for visitors and locals to do in the evening and need an entertainment precinct located near Eat Street.

I will encourage the partnership with investors and developers to develop such a plan.

I have announced an inner city housing plan to develop apartments and other lifestyle living choices.

We must keep the momentum of change going and share the pride we are now showing in our unique and cultural destination.

John Rakei-Clark:

Until I know the reason and the facts for our businesses vacating our town centre I would have to work with councillors and the business sector to make things right.

Let's not be divided by small thinking, let's all step forward as a united business force and make this a safe and economical city.

A call to all home run businesses - are you ready to step your business up a notch and have a real business shop?

Apply soon, bring your business into town, see if we can help you. Have faith in your business and yourself. Ask yourself "is this the time to spread those business wings?"

That's why the council are here - to help the inspired.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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