Chamber leads fight for downtown Queenstown

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The Queenstown Chamber of Commerce is leading a charge to revitalise downtown as Frankton retail developments gather pace.
 
The Chamber, with Queenstown Lakes District Council, has set up a working party of downtown business representatives with a view to establishing a Business Improvement District (BID). 

The group includes building owners, retailers and hospitality and accommodation operators. 

Its first step is to survey CBD business owners and operators on issues including parking, traffic management, lighting, signage, urban design and the retail mix. 

In her latest Chamber newsletter, chief executive Ann Lockhart says the proposed BID programme “doesn’t replicate services already provided by council but rather channels the capabilities and knowledge of the private sector to improve outcomes and achieve common goals [downtown]”. 

In a Mountain Scene opinion piece today, Chamber chairman Charlie Phillips says it’s important that downtown Queenstown continues to remain world-class. 

The CBD’s streets and green spaces need to remain pristine, public areas need to stay safe and business owners need to continue to be supported to ensure the area is vibrant and thriving, he says. 

“It’s still early days but we hope that ultimately an independent business district association will be formed to advocate for the CBD community. 

“The Chamber believes it’s the right time to establish this initiative because it’s important our downtown businesspeople have a voice on impending major issues, such as the proposed Queenstown convention centre.” 

Former local realtor Doug Jacques – who fears Frankton could become the new CBD if central Queenstown doesn’t lift its act – says the Chamber’s initiative is fantastic. 

Jacques, now in Christchurch, warned last June the impact of Remarkables Park was a ripple compared to the tidal wave coming when the shopping centre expanded, Five Mile retail developed, and a newly-approved Pak ‘N’ Save and Mega Mitre 10 hardware store opened. 

“The Chamber’s announcement is probably better than I expected. I didn’t think they’d have the energy to go all the way to a BID. 

“That’s certainly the right thing to do – especially with the onslaught of competition coming, we need to pull up our socks.” 

Jacques, a commercial leasing expert, says the only thing the Chamber’s not mentioned is the need to market the CBD. 

Frankton developers like Remarkables Park and Five Mile have an unfair advantage, he says, because they can control their whole developments. 

“It’s a lot harder to do where you have so many different stakeholders downtown and no one person can control what’s going on. Getting the group together and putting structure around it is definitely the way to go.” 

Local pharmacist and working party member Kim Wilkinson supports revitalising the CBD. 

“It’s been noted that it’s a long while since the CBD has been looked at. Parking and traffic management are two of my pet hobbyhorses but there are a range of issues that come into play when you look at the CBD. 

“It’s important there’s someone looking at it outside of council, and this is where the businesspeople are taking ownership, I suppose, and saying, ‘let’s look at the CBD – it’s in our own interests to keep this place looking as good as it can’.”