Calls for a variety of measures to assist struggling city centre businesses have been common in recent years and Tauranga City Council is continuing to invest heavily in solutions to the area’s malaise. Many of those solutions will take time to put in place, so in the meantime, we’re implementing a range of actions to bring people into the city centre and re-energise Tauranga’s commercial heart.
When the Commission first joined Tauranga City Council at the start of 2021, we were saddened to see the state of the city centre; a result of years of indecision and inaction by previous councils.
One of our main priorities ever since has been to revitalise the city centre, so it once again becomes the thriving, beating heart of Tauranga city – a great place for people to live, work, learn, visit and play.
That’s one of the key reasons we’ve committed to the transformative redevelopment of the civic precinct – Te Manawataki o Te Papa.
At $303 million, this will be the biggest investment the city centre has ever seen and will include a new library and community hub; a civic whare (community meeting place); a museum where the city’s heritage can be displayed; an exhibition gallery; and landscaping linking the civic precinct to the nearby waterfront reserve.
On top of this, Council has also redeveloped a city centre mall between Devonport Road and Grey Street to house He Puna Manawa – our library and customer service centre – until the new Civic Precinct facilities are constructed; and has committed to leasing a 10,000sq.m-plus building now under construction at 90 Devonport Road as its future administration building.
The private sector is also playing its part, with several large-scale developments already underway and more planned across the city centre.
We do acknowledge that this revitalisation won’t happen overnight, and we really feel for those businesses who have been impacted by previous inaction.
We are committed to working with them and other organisations such as Downtown Tauranga, so together we can support our city centre through this transformation.
We have already begun implementing some immediate solutions to help bring people back into the city centre through initiatives like community events.
These are working well, with a noticeable increase of people spending time in the city centre over the past summer, and we are looking to continue activation events over the coming months.
Creating more spaces for people to spend time is another great way to bring people into the city centre and this is a big driver for the transformation that’s underway at the waterfront, from Dive Crescent right along The Strand.
A key objective of this development, and the wider city centre transformation, is the need to make the heart of our city a place our community can feel proud of.
Cleaning up our streets, increasing the number of trees and plants and creating places for people to sit and spend time are just a few of the ways we are doing this.
We’re also exploring other solutions to support businesses based in the city centre, such as a review of licence to occupy arrangements, which allow for our outdoor dining areas.
A return to paid on-street parking in the city centre was undertaken in December to support retailers and customers who were concerned about people working in the city using parking spaces all day.
To further support businesses, earlier this month the Commissioners approved widening the scope of an existing city centre residential accommodation fund.
This creates a huge opportunity for us to kick-start a wider range of initiatives that we know businesses need in the short-to-medium term, while our city centre goes through this period of transformation.
We welcome all ideas from local businesses and will check back in with our city centre community over the coming weeks to discuss possibilities for making the best use of this fund, so as many people as possible can benefit.