Opinion: New City Centre Development – An Opportunity Invercargill Needs

Jun 30, 2019
1615 Views

Imagine what you could do with $30m. You’d make a significant difference in whatever area you spent that $30m in. With the right guidance, you might even be able to change the trajectory of a city.

Invercargill ratepayers have the opportunity to consult on whether they’d like the Invercargill City Council (ICC) invest $30m into their city through the HWCP redevelopment of the CBD. Perhaps this puts the Council in a strong bargaining position to secure the non-financial benefits to the community.

As a public-private partnership, this project could be the opportunity Invercargill needs to develop a future-proofed hub for our community.

Some may remember the thousands of Dunedin residents under the “Stop The Stadium” banner taking to the streets to protest the Dunedin City Council investing in Forsyth Barr Stadium in the late 2000s. Despite where the dollars may have fallen, Dunedin residents have ultimately reaped the rewards of this private-public partnership.

Invercargill can benefit from the same growth and visitor attention. But to avoid a “Stop The Stadium” situation with the CBD, it is imperative the project – with its community money from the ICC – is invested with the Invercargill community firmly at the top of the ICC’s priorities.

For this reason, I’d encourage ICC and HWCP to pay special attention to how the community would patron the CBD and what they’re currently crying out for. In my experience, that means a place where people can socialise and be entertained.

A modern CBD needs to encompass an entertainment precinct to ensure the CBD thrives by day and by night. A strong and attractive nightlife, achieved through a concentration of entertainment options, bars and restaurants, would help Invercargill rejuvenate its nightlife. Entertainment, in all forms, draws in people which spills over into retail and hospitality spending.

Of course, large-scale projects of this magnitude are carefully planned and curated, but if we’re taking the time to consult the public, we should be asking what they’d like to see in the development.

What examples of nightlife have you enjoyed in other cities? What are the kinds of options which are going to entice you to patron the CBD on days of the week other than Friday and Saturday nights? What do you want to CBD to be in the years to come? The answers to these questions will form an idea of what it is the community want from their CBD.

In this HWCP project, we have a great opportunity to shape the CBD for our future needs. But it needs public investment to ensure the community can truly benefit from it.

In the Council’s consultation information, it clearly states that without an investment from the Council, the project will likely fail to attract private investment. This means if the council, by way of its ratepayers’ submissions, decide not to invest the $30m, it’s extremely likely the project will not happen. In that case, we will be left with what’s currently there.

Your submissions, however you feel, will make the difference in what the Council will decide. To see positive change and growth in our city, our community must always be at the heart. It’s one thing to consult, it’s another to ask the right questions – make sure you give the answers that are right for you.

Invercargill residents have until June 28 to the ICC how they feel about the CBD; I’d encourage everyone to take five minutes out of their day to do so.

Tim Lindsay is a senior solicitor with AWS Legal.

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