A raft of council-led proposals to rejuvenate Hargreaves Mall and central Bendigo were presented at a meeting on Wednesday.
Ideas to improve the jaded precinct include installing a pop up park to create more shade and colour in the mall and using the shopping strip for more markets.
The mall and its surrounding thoroughfares, which have experienced increased vacancy rates over the past 12-18 months, were the focus of the presentation by the City of Greater Bendigo to stakeholders.
Other short-term options include working with Myer to rejuvenate its store and developing an investment prospectus with landlords to improve take-up rates of vacant shops.
Long-term considerations were improving toilet facilities, connecting existing laneways around the city centre to create more character and places to hold events and supporting the building owners to restore heritage façades.
A retail doctor visited Bendigo last year to assess ways in which the CBD, and the traders that operate within it, could reinvent their businesses.
Mayor Margaret O’Rourke said a range of options were being considered to attract more people and make the city centre a great place to relax, shop and do business.
“Today we discussed some of the actions we are considering, and gained some valuable feedback from business owners, landlords and agents,” she said.
“We are putting together a plan and we need a partnership approach to turn these ideas into reality.
“There are lots of really positive things happening in our city centre, such as our laneway precinct, some new food businesses establishing themselves and activities that have become a regular feature in the heart of our city such as the Moonlight Market.
“We are keen to see what the traders, landlords and agents think of what we are planning, because it’s important that whatever we end up doing meets community needs and expectations.”
The council was still in the process of developing a formal plan which would be subject to budgetary processes, Cr O’Rourke said.
A full list of short-term options include:
- Installing a ‘pop up park’ to create more shade and colour in Hargreaves Mall
- Hosting more events in the city centre, including using Hargreaves Mall for more markets
- Repurposing the current toilets structures in the mall for pop-up stores
- Investigating ways to improve the water play area for children
- Looking at improving the public transport waiting area on Mitchell Street
- Working with Myer to rejuvenate their store
- Developing an investment prospectus with landlords to improve take-up rates of vacant shops
Medium term options include:
- Improving toilet facilities (moving toilets to a new location within the city centre)
- Investigating connecting existing laneways around the city centre, to create more character and places to hold events
- Supporting the building owners to restore heritage façades
- Working with a range of developers on residential and commercial developments in the city centre