CBD lobby’s opening salvo


A new business lobby is launching its vision for downtown Queenstown - while having a crack at the local council for its lack of one.

Downtown QT, headed by long- time radio man Steve Wilde, presented its first report to councillors last week.

Mountain Scene can reveal the group’s first hits will be a campaign for retailers to open later, a trial to pedestrianise upper Beach Street and a push for free Wi-Fi across town.

It’s also demanding the council bring forward large public transport projects, like a town centre bypass and a transport hub.

Wilde: “The council’s timeline on those into the 2030s we believe is not appropriate.”

The reaction to its discussions with council? “Very positive,” Wilde says.

Downtown QT’s first target is opening hours.When daylight savings kicks in it’s going to campaign for retailers to open until 9pm.

“We want people to be able to shop with confidence,” Wilde says.

Queenstown mayor Vanessa van Uden says it’s great to have an organisation working and speaking for the CBD.

She says there were no surprises in the plan.

“We were encouraged to see the research, thought and vision that had gone into the draft report presented to us.”

About $280 million of developments are being built on the Frankton Flats, including at Five Mile and Shotover Park - with the first shops expected to open next month.

Frankton developer Alastair Porter, of Remarkables Park, says the CBD has nothing to fear from Frankton.

He says the Frankton/Remarkables Park area and downtown areas should complement each other.

“It’s not about a competition, it should be about cooperation.”

Wilde warns if his group’s pleas for longer opening hours are ignored by retailers it could work with landlords to mandate it as part of tenants’ leases, when they’re renewed.

When will the other things happen?

A pedestrian trial for upper Beach St: “I don’t think it will be before Christmas.”

Wi-Fi: “Very, very rapidly.”

Downtown QT boasts more than 100 members from the roughly 350 downtown businesses and landlords.

Wilde urges others to join, adding the council is already turning to his group for direction and guidance.

“If you’re not in the club you’re not going to have a say.”

The council has doled out $50,000 over two years for Downtown QT’s strategy - Auckland consultants First Retail Group have been drafted in to help.