Mark 2021 down as the year Hastings breaks itself free from the tag of Napier's ugly cousin, and transforms itself into a modern city.
Because in the once staid central business district, a building revolution is happening.
A year of upgrades to the east side of Hastings in 2020 has laid the groundwork, and even helped the town nab the title of New Zealand's "Most Beautiful" large town.
This year is the year that groundwork is set to pay off with what mayor Sandra Hazlehurst calls "transformational change".
Hazlehurst says it will be a "big year for construction" in 2021, with a number of projects starting and finishing in 2021, or preparing to open in early 2022.
To see the changes take place in front of her own eyes? It's exciting, she says.
What changed in 2020:
Since the "Hastings Alive" Hastings City Centre Revitalisation Plan was adopted by Hastings District Council almost two years ago, there have been a number of upgrades.
There have been streetscape upgrades like that in Karamu Rd North.
The east side of Hastings is being transformed into a hospitality hub and part of a council owned carpark in Warren St out the back of hospitality venues such as Common Room, now turns into an outdoor dining area in the evenings.
New businesses Sazio, Hastings Distillers, Blackbird Goods and Brave Brewing at the Tribune also joined existing successful businesses in the east side area, growing from strength to strength throughout the year.
This part of Heretaunga St East with its widened footpaths, planting, outdoor seating and flower boxes became the location of the Taste of Hastings event, the sort of thing people can expect more of in 2021 as the Eastside Eat Street development continues.
The council purchased six "lightboxes" which are stationed around the CBD and feature images ranging from art featured in exhibitions to Christmas scenes.
Toitoi – Hawke's Bay Arts & Events Centre also opened bringing in a range of successful shows despite a Covid-19 lockdown soon after its opening.
What's coming in 2021:
Throughout the year work will continue on the Municipal Building, part of the Opera House precinct, which is set to open in early 2022.
Strengthening work currently under way will be complete with a fit out to follow before an April 2022 opening.
The renovated Municipal Building will include laneways, retail, offices, hospitality and outdoor dining venues facing Heretaunga St.
The project is Hazlehurst's personal favourite of the many and she says they have already seen expressions of interest for use of the space.
"I can't wait to have that whole corner completed, and to be able to dance again in the Assembly Room, to have events and school balls there," she said.
A project extending and transforming Landmarks Square off Warren St into a larger city green space, will be complete at the start of this year.
In June 2020 Hastings' Eastside Eat Street received a $300,000 funding grant from Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency for its stage 2.
While the project is being co-designed with business owners, as supported by NZTA it aims to create a pedestrian-friendly experience with overhead festoon lights.
It will also have the ability to close the street after hours for events, so "lots more" events, such as the Taste of Hastings event in early December, can be expected Hazlehurst said.
Also set to open in early 2022 is the Quest Hotel directly behind Toitoi – Hawke's Bay Arts & Events Centre.
The 34-room, 4-4.5-star hotel is the first hotel to be built in Hastings City Centre.
After originally intended to start in October 2019, the project is now under way with demolition work beginning in December 2020 and set to restart in the New Year.
The Hansen Property Group development of the old Hawke's Bay Herald-Tribune building on Queen St East into the new Tribune precinct is also set to continue throughout 2021.
Stage one of the project is beginning to reach completion with Brave Brewing moving in in November, and retail and office spaces becoming available early this year.
The final stage of the development is set to be complete mid 2021, with a function and events space called Atrium.
The council also has further streetscape upgrades planned, with upgrades of Queen St between Warren St and Karamu St set to complement the Tribune development.
On Heretaunga Street West, planter boxes and seating will be added to street corner paving areas and planning will begin for the landscaping of Civic Square the associated library and art gallery buildings in the following financial year.
Last year, the city had a number of lighting installations, some of which were interactive, throughout the CBD which proved to be popular.
Trumpet Flowers, UV Spaghetti, Hybycozo and Filament were a few of the popular installations.
Hazlehurst said these "keep the city alive" and have brought families and visitors in to the city to see them.
Residents, workers and visitors can also expect more of these installations which are scheduled to be changed out every two months.
The extra decorative Christmas elements which were added to Toitoi and the CBD in the mall and above Heretaunga St East and in Albert Square, in 2020 will be an ongoing feature in the future festive seasons.
Hazlehurst said construction on the Waiaroha water treatment and storage facility on Southampton St East and Hastings St South will start, construction on the Frimley water storage and treatment plant will continue, and seven other small community water upgrades will be completed.
Hastings has been successful in attracting both private sector and government investment, she said.
"People are feeling really good about coming to the city.
"In the 70s people would come [to the CBD] just to shop, but around the world CBDs have been reinvented with green spaces, hospitality venues, events," Hazlehurst said.