Some businesses in the Tauranga CBD are doing it ''tough'' as major works, which are expected to continue into 2020, are bringing some streets to a standstill.
City leaders agree the transformation project, which includes more than $350 million of development, will revitalise the downtown but commercial real estate agents say they are struggling to fill tenancies due to disruption while the work is being carried out.
A lack of parking, closed streets, earthquake strengthening and construction had also taken its toll on some retailers, with one estimating its trade had dropped 50 per cent since June.
Ray White Tauranga business owner and commercial and industrial specialist Philip Hunt said some clients had decided to relocate.
''We are getting feedback from them that they want the fringe CBD or out of the CBD so its easy for their customers to come and see them.
''The CBD will be revitalised but a lot of these disruptions will probably go in on for several years. Yes, some businesses have closed and it's a real worry as the public can't get to the CBD easily.''
On the flipside, there were some major consultancy firms that favoured a central location ''but they are saying 'don't come to me if we can't get 20 car parks'.
''The parking is killing everything.''
Colliers International Tauranga managing director Simon Clark said feedback from his staff indicated retailers were struggling and it was hard to lease buildings in the CBD.
Farmers was a major drawcard and its closure for redevelopment had an impact, he said.
''We can all see the light at the end of the tunnel but it's going to be hard 18 months to two years until Farmers comes back.''
Billy Emeny, owner-operator of CBK: Craft Bar & Kitchen in central Tauranga, said it had been tough.
The CBD needs accommodation and car parks. It needs a rebrand, he said.
"You can't have this prime real estate just sitting here doing nothing."
But Emeny expected it would improve in the long term.
"There are still 160,000 people who live in this region. They need places to go out, they need shops to go to."
He noted the challenge of big malls pulling potential downtown customers.
"It's really sad; there are some people that are going to go under. I know people who are struggling right now. They just can't last any longer.
"I'm different because everyone eats three times a day and everyone has a beer. I'm lucky because if I don't get you today, I might get you tomorrow."
Bill Campbell of gift and souvenir shop Fancy That was less optimistic and described the situation as worse than grim.
''I am scared and terrified for the future of the city centre as I just don't know how it's all going to pan out.''
His turnover had dropped 50 per cent since June but he was locked into a lease.
''A lot of shops will be in this situation, you can't just get up and walk away - you are stuck here.''
A manager who asked not to be named had worked 18 years in the CBD and business was the worst he had seen it.
But House of Travel Tauranga owner Shane Kennedy said he had hired more staff and his figures were up 12 per cent on last year.
He believed ''businesses have to change'' and he wondered if those that were not doing so well were mistakenly thinking it was the CBD's problem.
''Possibly it's what they are selling and how they are selling it. Have those businesses evolved to deal with new customer expectations? I think that is the question they should ask themselves.
''Is the CBD parking issue a convenient excuse of not being relevant anymore?''
Morgan Jones, managing director of Veros Property Services, which has an office in the Tauranga CBD, said the whole idea of the Tauranga CBD being a drive-up convenience retail destination was changing.
"That will be painful for some groups but I think overall it's good for our city."
Jones said there are always going to be businesses that trade-off ground level – cafes, retail – but the city was now also seeing investment in all levels above that.
"The more cranes, the more roadworks, the more upgrades, the more investment we see, the better. It's not a case of actually saying 'look, wait for 18 months and then we'll have a new skyline, a new city'.
"It'll be great in another 18 months if we actually see double the amount of projects happening. So that this is not just a pulse that happens now, but it's more sustained."
He said there are projects in the city that have already been completed or ones that will be completed in less than 18 months.
"The university's going to be open in February. That will bring a whole bunch of people in."
Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt said the organisation was optimistic about the future of the CBD and its effect on the economy, with $350m in developments planned over the next few years.
Tauranga City Council city transformation general manager Jaine Lovell-Gadd said the council was committed to investing in the city centre and supporting successful development.
But councillor Terry Molloy said although the future was looking bright, in his view the council needed to address the negative aspects as ground floor businesses were hurting.
''There are huge issues... right now we have to put some real effort and expense into looking after the ground floor while we go through this transformation.''
He was an advocate for free buses, free parking for three hours and a park and ride service.
Harington St Carpark Building
* Due to open in early 2020, would have space for 550 cars and 250 parks for bicycles and 53 motorbikes.
* Will include electric charge points for cars and bikes.
* Hamilton St and Harington St, in front of the construction site only will be closed for the duration of construction.
* Parking buildings are self-funding, the budget for construction is $28 million.
Durham St and Durham Lane upgrade
* Durham St will remain one-way until the anticipated project completion date of June 2019.
* Temporary closures will occur around the Spring St and Durham St intersection until the end of February 2019, in order to upgrade the full intersection with paving and upgrade essential services underground.
- Source: Tauranga City Council