Downtown Tauranga wants $150,000 from Tauranga City Council to "activate" some of the approximately 150 vacant shops and offices in the city centre.

Sally Cooke, spokeswoman for the mainstreet organisation, presented plans for a 12-month trial of activation installations to the council's Projects, Services and Operations Committee this morning.

Cooke said the idea was to liven up for-lease spaces with window displays, retail pop-ups, and displays of art, culture, theatre, film, music, performance and more.

Goals of the programme included to "mitigate the current image of an emptying city" and to help property owners secure new leases.


About 150 of the 704 sites in the area of the CBD represented by Downtown Tauranga are up for lease.

Many retailers have reported being under pressure from flagging foot counts amid ongoing disruption from big city centre building and roading construction projects.

Cooke estimated the project would need $150,000-$180,000 in "foundation funding" from the council.

The organisation would also seek support from businesses and property owners, and was developing more detailed plans including specific success benchmarks.

It would aim to produce three installations a month in the first six months, then five a month in the second half of the trial.

Storefronts on Devonport Rd displaying for lease signs. Photo / Zoe Hunter
Storefronts on Devonport Rd displaying for lease signs. Photo / Zoe Hunter

A similar project in Hutt City produced 68 projects in 38 properties in four years, and 16 of the properties were now fully tenanted.

Councillor Terry Molloy said $150,000 was "peanuts" compared with the money that was flowing out of the CBD economy.

"We should be doing everything we can to support businesses in the CBD and get the foot count back up, get the vibrancy back up."


Cr John Robson said he was concerned at the lack of financial detail in the plan. He said the council needed to learn from its experience with Our Place, a temporary container village established on the site of the demolished city administration building on Willow St.

The village hit the headlines over summer after seeking a top-up of public funding.

The committee agreed to have council staff look into the concept and financial implications of providing the funding and report back at the July committee meeting.