Some business owners are wondering just what the council can do to revitalise Rotorua's CBD. It's an issue that saw one council candidate suggest housing homeless in a barn, one that has brought on separate claims the CBD is "dying", going through "growing pains" and turning in to a "ghost town". Reporter Zizi Sparks asks Rotorua mayoral hopefuls what they would do to ensure the CBD thrives.
Inner-city living, free parking and moving the homeless shelter are among ways Rotorua mayoral hopefuls say they will help the city's CBD thrive.
Steve Chadwick, Dennis Curtis, Rob Kent and Reynold Macpherson were each asked what they would do to ensure Rotorua's CBD thrives and how they would add value to the city.
Both Chadwick and Macpherson said the homeless shelter needed to be moved.
"I do believe the shelter for the homeless is not in the right place and now we have the Housing First programme here, we should find a better location for transition housing," Chadwick said.
Macpherson said the shelter needed to be moved to a "non-retail area".
He said, if elected, a CBD business rescue strategy needed many parts including re-routing the cycleway to restore parking, free parking for an hour and increasing joint foot patrols and surveillance.
Macpherson also suggested encouraging building redecoration, incubating business start-ups in the CBD and changing the rules on converted upstairs accommodation.
Chadwick called for inner-city housing and apartment living to be included in a review of city speeds, parking, walkability and traffic flows the outgoing council commissioned.
She also wanted to see more use of wood in any sustainable building designs.
Kent believed Tutanekai St should be a one-way street with half for the use of markets, outdoor dining, parades, street art and buskers.
"Pedestrians will have something to come into town for, not just shopping.
"Having much higher pedestrian counts and activity going on will help to curb the lawlessness and social issues we are facing, but a visible centre for police, wardens, and security guards, closest to the trouble spots, is also required."
Kent believed rejuvenating the CBD also required free parking and free hop-on, hop-off buses continually circling the CBD.
He wanted the bus interchange to be moved from Arawa St to Te Ngae Rd near Fenton St.
Curtis believed retail space in the CBD was "no longer".
"We must create a new footprint with the attitude that it becomes its own community that will be shared among many.
"Parking will be addressed at the same time to reduce the impact of getting it wrong the first time."
When asked how the candidates would add value to the city if elected, Curtis said he would put pride back into the communities.
"Manaakitanga is more than a statement. Council with all communities must feel it."
He said tourism needed to be protected and sustained.
Chadwick said the Lakefront, Kuirau Park, Whakarewarewa development, museum and performing arts centre would be finished.
"This will lift our game for locals, visitors and tourists and give the wow factor to our place."
Macpherson said adding value for tourists and new residents while encouraging ongoing development of the agribusiness, forestry and wood processing sectors required a "reformist mayor with proven leadership and planning skills in large organisations".
"The role of a mayor is to provide leadership to the councillors elected by the district, be a leader in the community and perform civic duties."
The state of the CBD has been a hot topic in recent months. In March a shop owner said it was at risk of becoming a ghost town after a lack of business forced them to leave.
In July, outgoing councillor Karen Hunt said it was going through "growing pains" and, most recently, at a council candidate meeting a business owner said the city was dying.
At the end of last year, registered valuer Grant Utteridge said there were 59 vacant spaces in the CBD.