GILBERT Rochecouste says Rockhampton's city centre needs a compelling story.
He has challenged key stakeholders to work together to create one which will make the city "globally iconic and locally distinctive".
And he is sure it has the makings of a best seller, given Rockhampton's riverside location, its historical precinct, its creativity and culture, and its leading produce.
Mr Rochecouste said it was these very features that had combined to make Melbourne one of the world's most liveable cities.
The Rockhampton Regional Council has engaged Mr Rochecouste, a leading authority in placemaking, to help create a place vision for the CBD.
He has overseen hundreds of similar projects across Australia, including Brisbane's Fortitude Valley, Sydney's Oxford St and Adelaide's Rundle St Mall, as well as regional centres such as Bendigo and Ballarat.
Yesterday, he hosted a breakfast and a series of workshops with Rockhampton CBD property owners and retailers.
And his message to them was clear - you must own and help drive the project.
"It's the old saying 'It takes a village to raise a child' but it takes a community to build a great place.
"Council must act as a leader, a steward and enabler but not as the doer. Ultimately, that is up to you," he told the 70-strong crowd at the Walter Reid Cultural Centre.
"The people here today are really the leaders now and into the future.
"They're the ones who will be changing the game. They're the ones who will go out and do their thing, do up their windows, invest in their properties and work together to activate an event and then the other two thirds will follow.
"That is how great cities are built - leaders. It has to start with the individual and then the collective."
Mr Rochecouste said he was impressed with all that Rockhampton had to offer but it had to be brought together in a collective vision.
He believes that fully utilising the Fitzroy River, with activities day and night, and re-activating the heritage precinct should be key.
"What is lacking at the moment is the city centre does not have a compelling story.
"The town needs to talk to me, saying 'Go here, go there'.
"You've got the fabric here. It is just waiting for the community to own the process and own the vision.
"We all need to be singing from the same song sheet and individuals need to know what their role is."
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