Sitting in Eat Streat this week, enjoying the bustling scene, I thought back to five years ago when the area became a reality in December 2013.
Initially Eat Streat was a trial, to see if the concept would take off. Did it what! The lake end of Tutanekai St is now permanently closed to allow for the precinct to continue to flourish and refresh itself.
I don't blame the developers going for broke and opening just two weeks before Christmas.
There was unfinished work that needed completing but it would have been daft to delay the opening until after Christmas. Make hay while the sun shines; doors open when the holiday crowds are about.
Eat Streat has been highly successful and we have visionary businesspeople with an eye to the future to thank.
It goes without saying that Rotorua Council should be supportive of well-researched and well-designed new business ideas.
But the financial risk lies with those who put their dollars on the line, the ones who "believe it before they see it".
They articulate the vision and concept and bring people on board. They marshal the required resources and bat away, or at least address, each obstacle as it comes along. And there were plenty of those.
People complained about blocking off the street to traffic. It would inconvenience those driving down Tutanekai St heading for the Lakefront.
Car parking spaces would be lost, it would encourage bar hopping and what about the businesses in the street who didn't want to support the concept of an eating precinct?
Any new idea is bound to run into opposition. There are people who would prefer things to remain the same.
Understandable. It's what they're familiar with and change can be unsettling. But most of us travel, if not overseas, at least to other parts of our beautiful country. We often see something and think "it would be great if we had something like that at home".
Every town and city is different and frequently an idea that has been successful elsewhere can be portable to another location. Successful ideas travel.
No need to reinvent the wheel when we can learn how someone else has done it profitably and well. Successful ideas are shared, too.
That's why I am excited about the proposed Rotorua Lakefront development. I'm prepared to believe it before I see it.
Again, there are those not happy with any redevelopment or change to the Lakefront. They might consider some small improvements but a major redevelopment, no way. I think the Lakefront looks tired and bland.
Our younger citizens seem to agree. This past year I have enjoyed talking to them about how they want to see their city and district develop and grow over the next 20 to 30 years.
What it should look like? They are full of ideas. They don't have the fond memories of certain places that older people have.
They want to make their own memories of their special places. The ones they helped create, used and made popular. I think it's wrong to be dismissive of the ideas of young people.
I find they care about their environment and are very aware that any Lakefront development must not compromise the lake's fragile ecosystem. They see the Lakefront as a modern, interesting "stay and play" meeting place for young and old. A place for different generations to enjoy the many and varied activities the new development will offer.
The Lakefront redevelopment is an audacious vision, trying to accommodate the wishes of a diverse community.
But Eat Streat has shown what happens when you are prepared to move with the times. Now we have an eating precinct with cafes, restaurants and bars humming daily.
Businesses are training and employing locals in the busy hospitality and tourism sector, the biggest income earner for Rotorua.
Thank goodness those who came up with the idea for Eat Streat didn't give in to opposition and cave when the pressure was applied.
They are the big dreamers every city needs. Prepared to take action when they see an opportunity. They have the drive to do it. Boring is not in their vocabulary.
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