4 November 2015
Rotorua’s City Focus will be transformed into a place for the people which puts pedestrians, rather than cars, at the forefront and opens up the central city area.
Councillors at Rotorua Lakes Council’s Strategy, Policy and Finance committee today [4 November] voted to next month begin demolition of the building in City Focus, between Tutanekai and Hinemoa streets, and remove the shackles and sails that have been a feature of the site since its construction in 1994.
Councillors heard submissions from Rotorua retailers Mike Steiner and Hilda Dufty on behalf of the inner city block champions. They argued it was critical to improve clear sight lines north to Eat Streat and the lake, south to Rotorua Central and east to the Polynesian Spa.
At their Inner City Steering Group and block champions meeting last week, they unanimously agreed the concrete pillars and sails should be removed.
Mayor Steve Chadwick agreed, saying she was convinced after hearing the retailers’ views that for Rotorua to get a dynamic interactive place, the sails would have to be removed.
“This is about the next generation and what they are looking at.
“The space is really a blot on the landscape. We loved it when it was first built. The sails were a design feature. I see them as in the way. I like the cleaning and the opening up.
“We need the wow feature. You’ve come up with something that can be shaped a little bit more. I think it is fantastic. It reflects a partnership with the community.
“It’s modern, dynamic and it’s story telling. What we’ve got there now is not storytelling.”
It would be “our place, our sense of place”.
“The rest of the country is going to look at this and say wow ……. we’re putting our money where our mouth is to invest in growth. I think this is incredibly exciting. I’m not worried about this, I say bring it on,” said Mayor Chadwick.
Cr Karen Hunt, who leads the Inner City Portfolio, said the council had the opportunity to reinvigorate a much loved space.
“This allows us to use the space in a much more dynamic way.
“I mostly want to thank the community at large particularly the inner city group and block champions.
“We’re moving our city forward. We’ve now got an opportunity at this significant meeting place to create a significant place for our community going forward.
“This is a huge opportunity to breathe new life into the heart of the city,” she said.
As a place for the people with pedestrians at the forefront, key improvements include:
- clear and highly prioritised pedestrian routes
- greater grounding of the design in cultural meaning, including the existing carved figures of Tutanekai and Hinemoa
- a recognition that the space is not only a central node for the people of Rotorua but also a point of key cultural significance to Te Arawa and its eight hapu
- a 50 per cent increase in public open space and the introduction of shared space zones at the east and west connections with Hinemoa St
- a highly flexible range of spaces that would cater to casual day to day use and bigger events which includes the provision of large open areas as well as smaller more intimate/closed locations for meeting, relaxing and play
- a balance of hard paved, open lawn and garden areas and the ability for adjacent cafes to spill out into and aid in the activation of the space
- clearly defined vehicle routes and permitting vehicular access through the space without compromising pedestrian safety and priority.
In the news
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Parking, City Focus refresh and night market on agenda
22 September 2015
Last days for feedback on City Focus Refresh concepts
28 August 2015
Residents calling into Ideas Store to view City Focus concepts
25 August 2015
Chat with mayor today about City Focus refresh
24 August 2015
City Focus Refresh concepts open at Ideas Store
21 August 2015
Community views sought on City Focus Refresh
28 July 2015
Public to have say in future of City Focus