Abuoyant Broadway is bouncing back
It’s far from curtains for Broadway, as its transformation from retail hot spot to food and entertainment hub starts to bring back the crowds and the cash.
Once the heart of the city’s shopping scene, business on Broadway declined as shops abandoned the street after the 2008 economic recession and the loss of Farmers to The Plaza in 2010.
Nearly a decade later and an influx of pubs, cafes and restaurants has that heart beating strongly again.
New figures provided by the Central Economic Development Agency show $9.1 million in spending on Broadway in the first quarter of 2017. That’s 14.1 per cent up on 2016, and makes Broadway the city’s fastest growing retail area.
Mayor Grant Smith said it was great to see Broadway filling up and standing out again.
He said it was getting hard to spot empty store-fronts there now when it seemed like the other way around a couple of years ago.
‘‘We’ve said for years that Broadway would bounce back. Now it has, and it happened organically, which is very positive,’’ Smith said.
Council had plans to redevelop the street, included a $300,000 proposal to improve lighting, and add ‘‘mini-parks’’ and seating.
Smith said Broadway building owners, which included the Catholic Church, Brian Green and Lincoln Charles, were all working towards improving some of the street’s older buildings.
‘‘Brew Union is an example of that. A significant, seven-figure sum was spent on improving and [earthquake] strengthening that building.’’
Brew Union co-owner Murray Cleghorn was extremely pleased with the brew pub’s performance since its March opening.
‘‘We’re definitely seeing a lot of people come in before and after shows and movies, or having din- ner.’’
‘‘There’s been a seismic shift with online shopping, so people are spending more on the experience than on [goods].’’
Manawatu residents spent just under $19 million online last quarter. That figure had grown rapidly over the previous year, and was 30.4 per cent more than the same time in 2016.
Wholegrain Organics owner Robert Hall said Broadway’s recovery was mainly down to two things - the street was close to all the city’s evening attractions, and the right businesses had moved in at the right time.
Shows, like ‘Cats’ are helping Broadway buzz again.