The state of the Wainuiomata Mall is not a Wainuiomata problem; it’s a Mall problem that has existed for 10 years plus.
In fact Wainuiomata has a number of exciting developments and initiatives, which are either on going or soon to be started. We have over 100 homes planned for the Parkway Extension (both sides of the road), which will be built over the next few years. We are on the brink of securing a $20-30m retirement village at Hugh Sinclair Park. $9m is being invested into a 4m wide protected shared walk/cycle path over the Wainuiomata Hill, which will be completed over the next 2 financial years.
House prices continue to be some of the most affordable in the region, and sale statistics show that we are attracting more families and young professionals than ever before. Sportsville is gaining momentum, and we have a fantastic gym that is going from strength to strength. We are the gateway to the outdoors with our mountain bike tracks, bush walks, campsites, golf course, coastline and stunning views.
Of course we have our challenges, but in no way does the Mall’s problems characterize or reflect on Wainuiomata generally.
There is no question that we all agree that something needs to happen with the Mall, but there is no point in continuing with the thought that ‘it use to be great’ or simply pointing the finger at Mall Management.
Instead, lets focus on things that we can control. Lets work with building owners and people in the private sector who can and want to make our town centre a more vibrant place NOW.
In December last year I was reflecting on what my priorities would be for 2016, and near the top of my list I put down working with who I can to transform our town centre, knowing that eventually the Mall would do something once they see everything else happen around them.
Here’s some of my thoughts and a few examples of what I will be focusing on this year:
- I want to see office space developed above our Queen Street shops and target small businesses, start ups, call centres etc to move in with the attraction of some of the lowest rent costs in the region. This would not only help existing businesses, but it would also attract cafes, coffee as well as provide local jobs for local people.
- As a part of our Development Plan, I want to see Queen Street and the Strand turned into attractive shared spaces for cars, cyclists, walkers and relaxers. Free Wifi should be on offer across the whole area and the entrance of Queen Street must be opened up so visitors passing by know it’s there.
- With the Hutt River being widened over the next 5 years, we need to be knocking on every single manufacturing business on Pharazyn Street and telling them about the space available down Waiu Street. The more people working in the Valley the better for our town centre.
If we can get cracking on all of this, alongside all the good things happening already, then I’m confident the Mall will pull its socks up and come with us. But if it doesn’t, so be it… We will still be creating a more vibrant town centre, and stronger Wainuiomata.
Of course I can’t do all this by myself! – I’m keen to hear your thoughts/ideas and get in touch if you would like to help.