Victoria St is set to be transformed into a boulevard as Wellington city councillors consider an $11 million plan that would see car parks replaced by a park.
Members of the council's transport and urban development committee were given a closed-doors briefing yesterday on the proposal, which would see two corners of Victoria St - at the Dixon and Vivian street intersections - transformed into public spaces.
The first park at Volunteer's Corner, with Dixon St, is already planned, and had about $4m budgeted for it, committee chairman Andy Foster said.
Now, officers have suggested extending the project farther up Victoria St, and building a second park at the corner of Victoria and Vivian streets, replacing a small parking area. The move would take the bill up to about $11m, though about $3m of that could come from an existing budget for an inner-city park.
The concept has been developed for Volunteer's Corner, and the council has started working on designs for the new park with the Memorial Park Alliance team, which no longer has work lined up after the Memorial Park is built, because the Basin Flyover project was scuttled.
Foster said the project was the first of three boulevards the city planned to create to help improve the central city environment, with Kent and Cambridge terraces and Taranaki St also in line to receive similar treatment.
"Victoria St is the first cab off the rank."
The decision now was how quickly the project progressed, and whether councillors agreed to expand the project.
Extra funding could come from existing budgets, after there was an underspend on some capital projects. The project would be weighed against other proposals next month.
Victoria St was an area of growth, with up to 2500 new apartments expected along there, as is a new Whitireia and WelTec polytechnics campus on the corner of Cuba and Dixon streets, and it was important to make it an attractive area for people, Foster said.
"What you've got there is obviously pretty utilitarian . . . we have got a lot more people living in the CBD and the CBD has to be an attractive place for people to live, work and play and this is part of achieving that outcome."'
While car parks would be lost, they were not heavily used, and the project would also help create better links through to Cuba St, Foster said.
The move was welcomed by Lily Kao, who runs the Left Bank night market. Anything that helped increase foot traffic would be a positive thing, she said.
Tommy's Real Estate is on the Vivian St corner where car parks could be lost, but manager David Platt said he was not too worried about losing car parks, and an improvement to the appearance of the area could be a good thing.
"It's not an area of town where you struggle to get a park."
Foster said that, if the council agreed to reallocate funding to the project, there were "rather optimistic hopes" that work could be completed next year - "but we will see".
- The Dominion Post
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