A hotel is finally coming to the Hastings CBD. So what will the central city look like when the visitors start to arrive? Sahiban Hyde reports.
The projects are about to begin. All nine of them.
In the next 18 months, the Hastings CBD is going to get a facelift. Nothing about it is earth-shattering. The clock tower isn't coming down to make way for a theme park.
But each of the projects will make a difference - and the council hopes, will make the city centre better.
"Hastings Alive" has arrived.
The Hastings City Centre Revitalisation Plan was adopted by the council in February after consultation with business owners and the community.
The plan prepared by external consultants Urbanism Plus identifies 23 proposed "activation areas" within the city centre that will be completed within the next four years.
The 23 projects are funded a combination of ways with $4.5m of public money allocated over the next four years.
Nine projects have been identified for start dates in 2019/2020.
The nine projects include work on Heretaunga St East and update for Karamu Road (St Aubyn – Heretaunga St), Albert Square work the creation of Heretaunga St West Laneways.
Hastings District Council's parks and property services manager Colin Hosford said the plan would complement developer and business investment in the Hastings City Centre.
The plan aligns with the City Centre Strategy and 2018-2028 Long Term Plan, and would use different urban design initiatives to try to improve the city centre.
"To achieve this, it dovetails with other council investment in the city centre including Opera House, Opera Plaza, Municipal Buildings and infrastructure upgrades; and private investment including the former HB Today development and the new hotel."
The new 35-room apartment-style hotel is set to be built in the Hastings city centre in a vacant building behind the Hawke's Bay Opera House, Municipal Building and Plaza.
Wallace Development Company Ltd will construct the hotel, estimated to cost $8 million, which will be operated by Quest Apartment Hotels – NZ.
Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said the council had been working to get a hotel into the central city for 10 years and it was a "massive progressive step for the city to be able to facilitate Wallace Development Company to make it happen.
"This will help increase economic activity and attract leisure and corporate visitors to our district to enjoy our tourism, hospitality and business offerings.
"With our Opera House, Municipal Building and Plaza redevelopment envisaged to become a national leader in terms of entertainment, culture and the arts, and the other plans to revitalise the CBD it is vital we have the infrastructure in place to accommodate the visitors this will bring."
Hosford said the projects being worked on for completion in the next 18 months have been prioritised to coincide with the opening of the Opera House, to reinvigorate and support existing hospitality businesses in the East Block and existing open spaces.
"These projects include - East 200 Block Hospitality Area, Landmarks Square and Albert Square, and street upgrades in Eastbourne St and Karamu Rd.
"The exact timing and sequence of the implementation programme is flexible to enable it to respond to changing priorities, community input and private developments."
Hosford said the focus of the revitalisation plan is planning for people, and making the city centre a more desirable place to visit.
"The net effect will be increased access to more car parking and more vibrancy, despite the replacement of some car parks with pedestrian areas and built-out dining spaces.
"This is occurring in both the eastern and western blocks, with the 300-block laneway completed last year."
As part of the plan it is proposed that improvements be made to the streetscape of Karamu Rd to provide a clear visual and physical signal that it is a main gateway into the city centre.
This would be achieved by softening the hard landscaping with the continuation of the planting of rata trees along the stretch, new footpath treatments, and the installation of feature lighting and banners.
This treatment is expected to increase the amenity of these three blocks, giving visitors a more attractive and welcoming first impression when entering the centre via this route.
Karamu Rd is feted in the plan as the major northern gateway corridor into the city centre and the key connection to the city's commercial areas, the hospitality and entertainment precinct, and the Civic Square Library and Art Gallery precinct.
The road also follows the historic route along which Hastings was established.
There is also significant private investment into the refurbishment of the former HB Today building and development of a new office/hospitality precinct on the corner of Karamu Rd and Queen St by developer Rob Hansen.
"Council has programmed the planned street upgrade of Karamu Road with this development, to ensure improved footpath, street lighting, trees and street furniture, and carparking to complement this private investment."
The nine projects scheduled for 2019/2020 starts are:
1- Heretaunga St East 200: Hospitality Space
In the East 200 block it is proposed that one new kerb build-out be created and furniture and planters added to existing mid-block build-outs to provide for outdoor dining and enhanced streetscape outside existing hospitality businesses.
The hospitality focus in this block is primarily towards the eastern end, hence the selected location.
2 - Heretaunga Street East Pocket Park
On the corner of Warren and Heretaunga St East there is a wide portion of footpath with the adjacent building set well back (in front of the Hawke's Bay Today building).
It is proposed that planters with edges suitable for sitting on be installed. A pergola would give further prominence to the space and planters would provide a buffer between this space and moving traffic.
3 - Southern Carpark Entrance & Pedestrian Link
It is proposed that a more welcoming first impression be created by allowing vehicles to continue straight ahead into the car park, from where Heretaunga St is easily accessible on foot.
This reconfigured gateway into the city centre will create a good first impression.
4 - Railway Road Corridor Enhancements
It is proposed that small areas of seating and several new trees be added to this area.
This would make this part of Railway Rd more attractive as an entranceway and encourage people to use it as a lunch break destination.
5 - Karamu Rd (St Aubyn – Heretaunga St) Street Upgrade
It is proposed that improvements be made to the streetscape of Karamu Rd to provide a clear visual and physical signal that this is a main gateway into the city centre.
6 - Karamu Rd (Heretaunga-Eastbourne Sts) Street Precinct
It is proposed that pedestrians be given much greater priority in this precinct, in part achieved by narrowing the roadway to slow vehicles.
Using special paving in the carriageway would indicate that the road was a shared space, encouraging pedestrians to cross and motorists to slow down.
7 - Landmarks Square Extension & Hospitality Space
Landmarks Square is a popular and attractive public space in the city centre due to its favourable orientation and location just off Heretaunga St East. Visitors, shoppers and workers use it as a space to meet people, eat their lunch, or rest.
Building on its success, it is proposed that this public space be extended over the adjacent Council car park.
8 - Albert Square
Given the optimal location of this site relative to local cafes and restaurants, the library, the art gallery and the bus stop, it is proposed that the space be further developed on the basis that any infrastructure could be relocated if necessary.
9 - Heretaunga St West Laneways
The City Centre Strategy 2013-2033 identifies the need to develop cross-block pedestrian connections through the city centre, linking off-street public car parks with shopping areas.
To achieve this, the strategy identifies that council should acquire strategic sites as opportunities arise. Successful laneways should be located in the middle of city blocks.