A closed-door 11th-hour meeting to decide the future of Whanganui's lower Victoria Ave regeneration project is set to take place on Friday, August 6.
Friday's meeting comes after a meeting on Wednesday between affected businesses and the project steering group, where those affected by the project had the opportunity to raise concerns.
The project, which plans to transform 10 car parks into outdoor seating areas as well as painting iwi-inspired street art onto the road, is 90 per cent funded by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency through the Innovating Streets programme, with the remaining 10 per cent funded by Whanganui District Council.
Waka Kotahi provides the funding to councils on the condition it can only be utilised for rejuvenating CBD streets, and cannot be spent for any other purpose. It allows councils to trial changes to streetscapes, with community feedback collected over a year to assess whether they should be removed, changed or made permanent.
Installation was expected to begin on Sunday, August 15, but the Town Centre Regeneration group is reconsidering the future of the project after a group of businesses on the street signed a letter opposing the move.
In the letter, business owners raised concerns about the loss of car parking and the impact on business, and accused the council of not adequately consulting with businesses - something the council denies.
In response, the Town Centre group organised a meeting with affected parties on Wednesday to discuss the future of the project.
According to the group, 38 people attended the meeting, including seven councillors, six council staff, 18 local business owners and residents, one iwi representative and six project contractors.
The group declined the Chronicle's request for permission to attend the meeting, but in an interview afterwards, Town Centre Regeneration Project manager Ellen Young said the meeting was productive for all stakeholders.
"There was a broad mixture of opinions shared. These ranged from supporting the project completely, seeking changes to the design, supporting some elements but not others, to strong opposition."
A council spokesperson said they floated a potential parking solution, which involved utilising space at 1 Victoria Ave where 10 car parks could be made available to replace those lost.
It's understood that a number of businesses originally in opposition to the move have changed their stance in response to the offer of alternative parking, while others remain unconvinced.
That proposal is still in its early stages, with council confirming there is more work to do to explore the idea.
Meanwhile, Mark Dyhrberg, owner of Jolt Cafe and the leader of the group of businesses opposing the project, reserved comment until after the project group's meeting on Friday.
"It was an interesting meeting, but we'll wait and see the results of their meeting."
A final decision on the future of the project will now be made at a meeting of the Town Regeneration Steering Group meeting at 10am on Friday.