Accessibility and enhanced city office space with more tenancies full of people willing to spend their money in the central city is what is needed to create a vibrant city centre according to Priority One’s city centre manager.
In his presentation to the council’s annual plan hearings Duarne Lankshear commented that Tauranga City is developing with the two new city office blocks, plans for a tertiary education institute and waterfront development.
He says the focus now needs to be on making these developments more accessible by improving pedestrian access and making the CBD more foot friendly.
“We have got to make it easy and accessible for these people to walk back into town,” says Duarne.
“Having no cars is dangerous, what you do is slow them down.”
He says council now needs to look at how to include the two new developments in the CBD; the Sharpe Tudhope building on Devonport Road and First Ave, and the Cooney Lees Morgan building on the corner of Cameron Road and Elizabeth Street by improving pedestrian access.
For example, Duarne says by changing the street surface at the Devonport Road intersection of Elizabeth Street to slow traffic down and emphasise the message that the CDB is pedestrian friendly.
The other issue is to improve pedestrian access from the Cooney Lees building across Cameron Road.
Duarne provided the example of Fort Street and Britomart Streets in Auckland where cars can still travel through the intersection and there is vehicle access to shops, but people have priority.
“We are starting to see high end retailers returning to this area,” says Duarne.
He expects as CBD office space fills up, downtown foot traffic, retailers and business in the inner city will also increase.
His reply to questions about where all the extra people will park is at odds with concerns about customers being driven out to the suburbs by high parking prices.
“We are a city centre and over time car parking should and will get more expensive, it’s a sign of a strong and vibrant city centre.”
Duarne says it will also increase the use of the council owned parking buildings and give the council a return on its currently under-used investment in parking buildings.
In his submission Duarne says the council’s positive signals are being taken up in the community with Oricon from Sulphur Point and PowerCo in Mount Maunganui considering moving to tenancies in the city centre.
He also congratulated the city council on the development of two new city office blocks, council’s leadership in providing the land for the tertiary institute, its initiative with the waterfront development and the proposal to change the development parking rules.