Broadway could light up at night, says mayor
Broadway Ave could transform itself into a bustling night-time street, says Palmerston North Mayor Jono Naylor.
Giving his "State of the City" speech at a Rotary Club meeting yesterday, Mr Naylor was asked by someone in the crowd to give his opinion on the fate of the struggling street.
He said Broadway would never be the city's premier retail location again, as malls and online shopping had completely changed retailing.
"People want it to be what it was, without recognising what it will be."
However, he did offer a suggestion.
"I think its future is as a night-time street, not a day-time street."
The Regent Theatre and Downtown Cinemas were night-time drawcards which should be capitalised on, he said.
Some businesses were doing that, but Mr Naylor said they were often given a hard time.
People sometimes expressed despair about "certain restaurants opening up on the street".
"To be honest, they're the kind of things the street needs."
Mr Naylor said Broadway's infrastructure was some of the best in the central business district, though there were still problems.
"We still have a few challenges with birds," he said, referring to birds leaving their droppings on cars.
GQ Clothing owner Ralph Bare said Mr Naylor's comments were "typical" and "uninformed".
"He obviously doesn't spend time here, so he doesn't know much about it."
Mr Bare said there would always be space for retail on Broadway.
"The sites from the Regent down [to The Square] will remain great shopping sites."
Most people who went to a show at the Regent usually went to the nearby bars in the arcade if they wanted to stay around, he said.
"It's always been like that, and it's only got better."
Manawatu Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stephanie Gundersen-Reid said the mayor had a point about the changing face of retailing, but it was up to those in Broadway to decide what they wanted the area to be.
"Broadway is struggling to put the finger on what it is."
Ms Gundersen-Reid said she had met with council staff last month to discuss Broadway and was planning to talk to retailers soon.
"I would rather hear it from them and see what they would like to do and, if necessary, how we can help. Through working with retailers in Broadway, we hope they say how they see it and what they would like it to be, because it's actually their place."
Broadway had the potential to be a "funky" area of the city.
"I don't think filling it with art and for-lease signs is the right way to go about it."