Parking, beautification of the inner city and sharing Rotorua's story should be priorities in any plan for revitalising the CBD, business owners say.
The comments followed the adoption of Rotorua Lakes Council's 2021-2031 Long-term Plan on Monday.
One of the plan's goals is a "vibrant city heart" for Rotorua.
However, local businesses wondering what this goal could mean in practice will have to wait.
Rotorua Lakes Council deputy chief executive district development, Jean-Paul Gaston, said a long-term plan for developing the CBD was in its "initial steps" and a proposed plan was "some way" away.
Gaston said the council would work with mana whenua and Te Arawa on cultural foundations and work on an incentives policy to encourage inner-city development
"We have also had a review of all previous CBD plans to extract elements that have been consistent [across them all]."
At a Rotorua Lakes Council operations and monitoring committee meeting on Thursday, Gaston said one of the critical elements was the role of Tutanekai St.
"[There is a focus on] keeping Tutanekai St as our high street and really making use of that existing spine that we've had since the city was formed."
At the same meeting, councillor Raj Kumar asked about the potential pedestrianisation of Tutanekai St.
Gaston said improving Tutanekai St pedestrian and retail experience was a priority. But while a "myriad of options" existed, there were no designs or plans in place.
Gaston was not able to give a timeframe for when the council could expect to see a draft plan.
At the conclusion of Gaston's presentation, councillor Tania Tapsell confirmed Tutanekai St was not going to be pedestrianised.
"That is not at all the council plan," Tapsell said.
Previous ideas for the CBD revitalisation strategy have included a 30km/h CBD speed limit, the pedestrianisation of Tutanekai St and the removal of the green corridor cycleway.
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard, who was also present at Thursday's meeting, said the CBD revitalisation issue was the number one issue confronting business.
"[The CBD revitalisation] covers everything. It's a huge undertaking." Heard said.
Heard also said the chamber was happy to facilitate debate around the issue.
"The chamber is very keen to see a well-thought-through redevelopment plan agreed upon with the primary stakeholders in the CBD," Heard said.
CBD retailers the Rotorua Daily Post spoke to this week had differing opinions on how the inner city should look.
Living Colour owner and florist Nina Healey believed pedestrianisation of Tutanekai St would "kill" business.
She wanted to see more car parks and free parking for staff working in the CBD.
"If customers can park their cars outside the store, they will come.
"We're not all on bicycles and horse-drawn carts."
Hennessy's Bar owner and Hospitality New Zealand Bay of Plenty branch president Reg Hennessy said the council's time and money were best directed towards beautifying the inner city.
"They should get the jobs that they're already doing finished."
Hennessy said he would like to see work on Rotorua Museum and Aquatic Centre completed as a priority.
The council's plan has allocated $239 million to finishing projects it has already started, including the museum and aquatic centre, and included a $28.3m aquatic centre redevelopment.
Rotorua Museum has been closed since 2016 and will not reopen until 2025.
Honey Comb Hair and Beauty owner Sarah Pearson said attractive shop fronts should be a priority.
"Rotorua is the most cultural town in New Zealand. The city wardens are doing an amazing job.
"We just need people to come here."
Pearson also said she would like to see how technology could be used to tell Rotorua's story.
Pearson is one of about 25 business owners who form the Takiwa or Block Champions group.
The aim of the group, which meets monthly, is to work collectively and with the council for the benefit of CBD businesses.
Pig and Whistle Historic Pub and Capers Epicurean owner Gregg Brown said online shopping and changes brought on by events like Covid-19 meant the CBD needed to be different from what it had been.
"We haven't got it right until developers want to come in [to town]."
Brown said a strong investment programme, storytelling initiatives, addressing safety concerns and more green spaces would go a long way to making the CBD attractive to investors.
"We need a CBD that's appealing to spend time in."
In its Long-term Plan, the council also allocated $500,000 more to implement a community safety plan, bringing the total annual commitment to $1.13m.
Information from Telfer Young quoted in the council's 2021 to 2031 plan document said there were 113 untenanted office and retail spaces in the CBD in the 2019/2020 financial year.
The plan states an intention to reduce this significantly by 2022. Step five in the plan includes the construction of two inner-city apartment buildings.
In response to Brown, Pearson, Hennessy and Healey's comments, Jean-Paul Gaston told the Rotorua Daily Post it was great people are already thinking about and discussing their thoughts and ideas for the CBD.
"We look forward to capturing their input during the course of engagement and consultation as we work through the process to arrive at a final plan."