Editorial: A CBD to be proud of

By Katie Holland

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Katie Holland
Katie Holland

How many of us can say we are truly proud of our inner city? Sure, Rotorua is a beautiful place with great people but the CBD can feel pretty lifeless.

In Saturday's paper we reported there were now 98 empty shops in the area bordered by Fenton, Arawa, Amohia and Amohau Streets, up seven from a year ago. The survey took an hour and a half and gave me blisters. It was also pretty depressing - there were an awful lot of 'For Lease' signs.

So later that day it was heartening to talk to Mike Steiner about his newly-formed Inner City Focus Group - a collaboration of 180 Rotorua businesses who have got together to revitalise our CBD. Members of the group spent Thursday with the Rotorua District Council and other stakeholders brainstorming and making plans for change.

Revitalisation efforts have been ongoing for years with projects such as Eat Streat, the Night Market and the Walkable City. However, this week I got a sense the time may have come for action. Mr Steiner, a long-time Rotorua retailer, has taken the lead and is passionate about making things happen.

That feeling was shared by Nick Dallimore, manager of the council's Inner City Enterprises Unit, who admitted he left the stakeholder-led meeting "gee'd" up with a huge grin on his face. As he said, the council just can't do it all themselves.

Only time will tell what changes are made and if they improve the CBD.

But, if there's one thing I have learnt in my time as business reporter, it's that there are hundreds of business people in our community who love this city and want it to be the best it can be. With them involved, things are looking up.

Going by the comments on our Facebook page, the CBD is an issue the whole community feels strongly about. Most can agree they want an attractive and safe CBD with thriving, interesting shops and a buzzy, happy vibe.

Well done and good luck to those trying to make that happen.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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