CBD work proceeds 'to save inner city'
The Invercargill inner-city working group has decided to go ahead with plans to upgrade the CBD despite the uncertain future of its earthquake-prone buildings.
"If we don't proceed with the CBD upgrade the inner city will have moved, it will have gone," working group boss Norman Elder said.
The inner-city working group, which was established by the Invercargill City Council, decided in a meeting this week to forge ahead with the multi-million-dollar project.
"There's a concern from members of the public as to why we are going ahead with the design and development work in the inner city when we don't know what's happening with earthquake issues, but we think we are better to box on," Mr Elder said.
The Government is expected to announce new building code standards in the wake of the Canterbury quakes, with Mr Elder saying it was understood that building owners would be given several years to strengthen their buildings. But, with businesses already dispersing to areas outside the city centre, it would be a mistake to leave the CBD upgrade for another few years.
"If we don't do this in the next two or three years the city centre won't have any more relevance. There's a rapid decline in street traffic now and a growing demand for destinational shopping. You can see the retail movement to Leven St . . . and the office development to the old showground site."
The city council recently sold a car park on the corner of Deveron and Don streets to Calder Stewart, who will probably build an office block building on the land.
Mr Elder said the land was not in the CBD "triangle" identified for the city centre upgrade, but it was better to have office workers near the CBD rather than have them move out of the area.
It was vital to retain the CBD in Invercargill because every city needed a "heart", where people gathered for shopping, entertainment and events, he said. "If you don't retain that heart the inner city is gone, it's dispersed itself."
Regardless of the outcome in the Christchurch earthquakes royal commission, work would proceed in Invercargill to identify historic and "iconic" buildings deemed worthy of strengthening, he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News