What a huge fortnight we have had! The Chamber has been at the coal face in truly pivotal meetings with key departments at GRC. All members of the board are buoyed by the positivity and cohesion coming from these meetings. Great things are happening.
Last fortnights article was aimed squarely at Gympie’s empty shops and what can be done to enhance our beautiful city centre.
The feedback from that article came like an avalanche, both on social media and in person. It is wonderful to see and hear the positivity and pride in our town.
The Chamber is steadfast in its belief that a strong and (even more) vibrant city centre will permeate throughout our region.
Of course, our city centre is more than just Mary Street, we mustn’t forget about Mellor Street, Young, Nash, Reef and Barter Streets and more. A strong plan that radiates out from its centre is where we are heading.
So, how do we fix it; the discussion.
The ideas came thick and fast. There are some that can be done today and others that will take a bit longer. But the worst thing we could do is not get started at all.
The most common feedback was the cost of rent. It appears there are many businesses that would love to be in the empty shops, but the rent is out of reach for them. Of course, there is no “light switch” solution to this one. Many of the shops are owned in complex financial structures that don’t “allow” for a reduction in the rent. At the same time, there were others that say the rent in Mary Street and surrounds is very affordable.
One suggestion was the adoption of short term, “pop up” style shops or services that could be allowed to “rent” the shops on no fixed term at a nominal fee.
A local businessperson suggested a change to the planning scheme to allow Air BNB style accommodation in Mary street would immediately bring people into the city centre.
A reduction in “red tape” for businesses that aren’t standard retail shops came from more than one respondent.
Working directly with the Gympie campus of the USC was suggested as a great way to bring young people in.
Aspiring artists might be encouraged to paint murals on the inside of empty shopfront windows.
With the upcoming launch of the new Youth Precinct, a way to tie Memorial Park, Nelson Reserve and Mary Street together was another suggestion.