Invercargill’s CBD could be transformed by a retail strategy pegging down major changes to city streets.
The strategy, developed by Wellington retail consultants First Retail Group after months of business input, was adopted by the Invercargill City Council last week.
A two-way Don St and a right turn from Dee St to Esk St were listed as “high priority” in the strategy.
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Council city centre co-ordinator Kari Graber said the strategy combined planned developments and past reports.
Plans were under way for some projects to start in just months.
The strategy document says Invercargill has more owner-operated stores than other cities. Many had served their community for generations.
In other cities, the increasing “sameness” of chain stores impacted customer attraction, the document says.
Invercargill was fortunate to retain independent businesses shoppers could not find elsewhere, it says.
Additionally, Southland’s bounty provided an advantage for the food and beverage sector.
A “restaurant week’ to celebrate the province’s traditional fare and local produce was outlined in the strategy.
The Cambridge Place development proposed by the Southland Regional Development Strategy would be “transformational”, the document says.
The pop-up gallery on Don St also showed the arts could benefit neighbouring commercial community, it says.
Currently, the most appropriate location for the new gallery was from the Vibrant Urban Centre’s action plan – in Esk St.
However, First Retail Group’s strategy says the gallery in the heart of the city’s shopping area could “break continuous shopping strips” and lessen convenience.
Instead, the strategy wants the gallery on Dee St – where it would enable a cluster of cultural destinations, including the city archives, “bookends” of the area.
A fresh colour palette for the CBD, a refurbishment programme, city brand and building “feature lighting” were listed as priorities.
“High” priorities were road changes to enable vehicles to turn right from Dee St to Esk St, and returning Don St to a two-way road, the strategy says.
“Legacy one-way streets are recognised as barriers to visitation and reasons consumers may choose to shop elsewhere.”
A four-way crossing was “high priority” for Esk and Kelvin streets. Currently, the crossing impeded traffic flow, it says.
The strategy wanted the city council, Venture Southland and property industry to make a “retail prospectus” to attract investment.
An urban design review was needed, it says.
“Council should engage an independent urban design perspective that can consider contemporary opportunities.”
Invercargill should investigate a volunteer “ambassador scheme”, or patrol, to support commercial goals, the strategy says.
Around 70 per cent of purchasing decisions were now influenced digitally, it says.
“Bloggers, community champions, businesspeople and others could become effective ambassadors for the CBD.”
In February, two workshops with more than 100 key stakeholders, property owners, business owners and industry representatives helped to form the strategy.
Graber said the workshops were an opportunity to get a first-hand understanding of issues and concerns.
“These workshops also provided an opportunity to build a collaborative working relationship between council and key stakeholders in the city centre.”
First Retail Group managing director Chris Wilkinson said the strategy was far-reaching.
It explored all aspects of the city’s appeal and potential, he said.
“Invercargill is a city poised for significant regeneration with a number of pivotal projects about to get under way.
“The strategy helps determine how these developments can add value to the existing offer, but also help welcome new audiences to the city centre.”
First Retail Group were “delighted” with the high level of feedback and participation from stakeholders, he said.
“[It] greatly helped shape the strategy and outcomes necessary for a successful CBD.”