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Giving a welcome boost to Broadway

Broadway gets a much-needed boost

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 12:00 25/08/2014
Broadway
GRANT MATTHEW/FAIRFAX NZ

Pop-up placemaking: David Engwicht works on a pop-up demonstration of placemaking outside Bachari Menswear on Broadway Ave, Palmerston North. 

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Broadway Ave retailers were given a taste of how they could reinvigorate business on the struggling Palmerston North street at the weekend.

An example of how placemaking might work on Broadway was set up yesterday with a "wife's waiting area" established outside Bachari Menswear and a neighbouring barber.

It featured seats and bean bags on a section of astro-turf, pot plants and a box of magazines to read.

"The vibrancy of any shopping street can be judged by how well the retailers interact with the footpath," Creative Communities adviser David Engwicht said.

People were less likely to use streets without people on them, Engwicht said. The goal was to encourage those who did use Broadway to stay there for longer.

"If people spend twice as long on a street, it's twice as full," he said.

By giving people reasons to stop and engage with the street they would spend more time there rather than rushing straight to and from their car.

Sunday's effort outside Bachari was put together within 72 hours with a budget of $3000, including finding a retailer who would take part.

Engwicht said retailers often looked at reasons, such as the extension of The Plaza, for why people were not coming through their doors.

"We've got to say to them you have to take control of your own street and your own destiny.

"If The Plaza's taking customers away, create an experience where people will continue to come here and hang out."

Palmerston North City Council policy planner Jennifer Easterman said the 72-hour placemaking challenge was part of the council's larger project to revitalise the area.

That included a trial outside the Regent on Broadway of what could be achieved.

Easterman said feedback had been encouraging from passers-by.

"Most people have responded really positively, there have been lots of questions about the grass, whether it's real."

Easterman said that while placemaking had proven to be a success on George and Cuba streets, it was not as simple as copying what had worked there on Broadway.

"We're trying to do something different with Broadway as it's a different space."

George St was home to a lot of cafes while Broadway was more of a retail destination, she said.

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- Manawatu Standard

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