Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Businesses desperate for solution to CBD

Editor December 21, 2016

DURING a lively and at times fiery presentation to mall and CBD traders in the Maude Street Mall last week, Greater Shepparton City Council and Spiire engineering consultants presented plans on how to revitalise the mall as part of a ‘New Ideas For The Mall’ campaign.

Several traders were vocal and visibly angry towards the suggested new plans.

“This is the consultation process,” Chris Teitzel told the 50 or so business owners, managers and property owners.

Following are some of the comments that were made by those who attended.

“Business in the mall has been down by two thirds for many years,” one businessman said.

“Parking in the CBD needed addressing.”

“How about closing Fryers Street (like the mall) for a 90 day trial and seeing how trade would go?”

“Why does the council not visit other successful cities?” Referring to regional cities who have had malls and revitalised them by opening them up to beautification and slow moving traffic. Mr Teitzel responded by mentioning council was planning a trip in February – March 2017 to other regional cities.

“If you’re going to build an art precinct – you need to have a retail precinct,” was another comment.

Another retailer complimented Spiire for their efforts in coming up with ideas, however asked to “give us a future and let’s have a decent conversation about the CBD.”

The message from business and property owners was that they were deeply concerned with their property investment in the CBD, putting their super into their buildings and watching them drop in value.

The feeling was strong from the floor to save the $340,000 set aside to invest in the pop-up picnic area, pop-up food kiosks, open air dining hall, open air art gallery, pop-up veggie patch, pop-up playground and solar tree and play area, and put the money towards bigger plans for the mall and CBD.

Similar examples of pop-up stores’ success at Geelong, Yarraville and Christchurch (New Zealand) were mentioned by Spiire.

Councillors Dennis Patterson and Shelley Sutton attended the meeting. Cr Patterson said, “Let’s work towards getting something done; let’s work in a positive way to getting something done.”

Following the information evening, Shepparton Chamber of Commerce and Industry acting president, Carl Hainsworth said, “For many years, the cost of reopening the mall has been used as a roadblock to doing anything. It would be good for council and the appropriate authorities to investigate the cost of opening the mall.

“I feel the benefits of investing in reopening the mall would far outweigh the cost, particularly with the long decline that has occurred with Shepparton’s CBD, what price do you put on our CBD?” Mr Hainsworth asked.

The deadline for your thoughts on what we can do to the mall is January 9 via the council website, www.greatershepparton.com.au