A pop up park has appeared in the Hargreaves Mall for Christmas. There are bands playing and a general feeling of goodwill is sweeping over the area.
On social media the feedback has been positive – about the atmosphere, how nice it was to sit and listen to some accomplished local musicians and about plans to bring children to the park for a play session.
The project has brought extra life (if only for a short time) into a part of Bendigo’s CBD that has long been a cause for comment - mostly negative.
Among the social commentary this week a question was posed about how long would it stay (wistfully, perhaps, or, more probably, with a touch of sarcasm) and what would happen next for an area that has become a white elephant.
The council is looking at the future of the mall and the CBD in general. They want to re-create a vibrant, humming central city area. It can’t come soon enough.
A “retail doctor” was invited to the city to advise retailers on how to improve their lot last August. At the time, the Bendigo Advertiser reported that it “understands the retail doctor recommended Hargreaves Mall should be at the heart of the fuller retail strategy. Beautifying business areas was among the suggested ‘quick wins’.”
It’s good to see that the park, however briefly in place, is backs up the beautification idea. But 17 months on from the first visit of the “retail doctor” little permanent change has materialised.
Retailers are heading into a year where online sales will continue to eat into profits. And while online can be convenient, it lacks the human touch - the ability to be able to ask somebody about a product while you’re looking at it.
Bendigo’s commercial area continues to be buffeted by the winds of change, but this week a real estate agent said the city could be a good option for investors. Let’s hope they are right. And that buyers have money to spare. An injection of funds to revamp the some of the street frontages and scapes on the CBD is sorely need.
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