Al Gustafson says seeing the sky will be a good thing.
The commercial real estate agent looks after nine properties in the Porirua CBD, with another two pending. He has been working in the field for more than three years.
He feels the Canopies should not be replaced when they come down in January. Two landlords told him that before the Canopies, storefronts had balconies over them, or awnings. Gustafson said that was the solution.
‘‘The balconies could give the place a real French Riviera feel. But we need sun to come in and cover is not going to allow that,’’ he said.
‘‘Porirua has nicer weather than Wellington and could attract cafes, bars and speciality stores if given the chance.’’
Gustafson said shops were empty and people stayed away from the CBD because they couldn’t park in front of stores.
The uncovered MegaCentre was succeeding – and businesses were moving there from the city centre – for that reason, he said. He cited Stella Creations, Ballantynes and Dick Smith as examples.
‘‘I’d like to see angle parking and even have [the Canopies] as a 20kmh drive- through zone. There is so much potential for it to be a nice area, and the council’s tunnel vision will stifle that.
‘‘The ‘it’ll get worse before it gets better’ attitude is a tired political phrase and indicates a lack of vision.’’
Porirua mayor Nick Leggett said he welcomed debate on the CBD being covered.
He said nothing was set in stone and public and private comment would be sought during next year’s long-term council plan process.
He said he favoured a Canopy-like covering that lets said and in light and sun, but had an open mind.
‘‘I’m flexible. Let’s wait until they [ Canopies] come down and see what it’s like.
‘‘It’s a massive expense [$3 million] to replace them, but people could be frustrated by having no cover. We have to be sure and get it right.’’
Council city centre committee chairman Euon Murrell said he wasn’t in favour of cover, but wanted all views heard.
‘‘It’s not going to be a quick process and nothing is automatic.’’
Gustafson the rates development levy that building owners paid in the CBD was too high. He said owners of small buildings were suffering most.
‘‘All this time the council have been hiding behind expensive consultants.’’