Big plan to save battling street
Every remaining property asset of now-liquidated Valor Ideal has been bought by a Broadway investment group vowing to rejuvenate the struggling street with private money.
The owners' bold five-year plan to bring "iconic" shops and eateries back to the area between the old Farmers and new Westpac building and the Regent on Broadway has been outlined to the Manawatu Standard by a spokesman for the group, Lincoln Charles.
The current plan calls for:
Most earthquake-prone buildings in the historic block, including those on the King St side, to be demolished and rebuilt.
King St's retail area from Westpac to the Regent to become a car park zone to take the pressure off parking on Broadway.
Building frontages on Broadway and King St, such as Number One Shoe Warehouse and Stirling Sports, to be shortened to a maximum of 50 metres to cater for car parking.
Shop facades on Broadway to be redone "in symmetry" with the Westpac building's style, and for buildings to be renovated where necessary.
Offices and quasi-residential accommodation to bring back foot traffic to be encouraged.
More alleyways between King St and Broadway to be created, for better connectivity.
Mr Charles said Valor Ideal had left Broadway in "a bit of a state" and the project group owners, consisting of two local businessmen who did not want to be named, were not waiting around for council handouts to fix it.
"When we lost Farmers [to The Plaza] we lost foot traffic and as values fell Broadway started getting the retail outsiders, the happy pills and the likes.
"They only survive because they can afford the rent so we need to attract medium to high-class retail to force them out.
"What we want to bring back is iconic shops and I use that iconic shops term seriously.
"We do not want to see a national chain store on Broadway. We are not competing with The Plaza, as far as we are concerned they can have them."
Mr Charles said the pull of the Regent at night was the key to the area and the group wanted top-notch eateries around it.
"We will try and attract those upmarket shops, similar to what is on George St but with more of a night-time feel."
He would not divulge exact details of what the group now owns or how much it cost to buy the assets of Valor Ideal.
Reaction to the news within the affected block was largely positive.
Stirling Sports co-owner Will Murrie said he was just happy to see movement, whether he was affected by the changes or not.
Ballentynes Palmerston North acting manager Robyn Munn said she hoped the changes would not take too long.
"Almost every veranda was leaking when I went for a walk last weekend - it needs work done and it needs doing quickly."
The thought of horrifying shop fronts such as the abandoned Skynet Internet Cafe being fixed was music to the ears of Just Looking manager Viv Watson.
"That's just fantastic news and hopefully the council can come on board with them and get this street back thriving . . . We want it back to its former glory again."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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