Abuoy­ant Broad­way is bounc­ing back

The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS - PAUL MITCHELL

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.

PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ

Shows, like ‘Cats’ are help­ing Broad­way buzz again.

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