CBD business owner fed up with increased lack of parking
ROCKHAMPTON CBD business owner Cory Furber has seen his fair share of construction works in the main street – the latest being seven new gardens beds on Denham St in the place of 14 car parks.
He claims could the loss of these car parks could see the area lose more than 50 customers a day.
Mr Furber, who has owned Swarv Menswear for more than a decade, said there has been a long time issue with inadequate parking in the CBD and is now even more frustrated to see more go.
He said the large of vacant shops in the CBD can be attributed to the lack of parking and with not enough customer staff it can make it a daily challenge to achieve minimum budgets.
“In the 14 years of business in East Street, the council has made little to no progress on substantially improving the number of car spaces within the CBD,” Mr Furber said.
“Lost opportunities to add car spaces along the riverbank development, impractical car space designs and not completely using the space.”
Refuting the claims, Rockhampton Region Mayor Margaret Strelow said the new garden beds are to being installed to enable wi-fi and smart technology.
“Council understands things are tough for businesses right across the board, and even more so for traditional retail operating from the traditional ‘Main Street‘ setting,” she said.
“So we have been investing in trying to create a CBD that is the sort of place that a new generation of shoppers, who are used to airconditioned shopping centres, might find attractive.
“To that end we have doubled down on our efforts to plant shade trees, to build and support the use of dining platforms, and to install free Wi-Fi and other sophisticated technology into the CBD area.”
Cr Strelow noted further incentives council has in places for CBD business owners.
“We have also gone dollar for dollar with many businesses to repaint and repair facades to ensure that buildings fronting the public domain create a positive impression for our city,” she said.
Mr Furber explained the CBD has two hour parking restrictions and taking one car space out of action for one day that is a minimum of four customers per day.
By removing 14 car spaces, this equates to a minimum of 56 potential customers to visit the Rockhampton business precinct.
“This councils’ decisions are crippling all Rockhampton CBD businesses from potential customers,” Mr Furber said.
In late 2018, council opened a new 124-space car park at the old Wintergarden Theatre site on Alma St, in a bid to combat some of the parking issues in the CBD.
Cr Strelow said the occupancy rate in our carparks in the CBD is around 50 per cent or lower over the weekend, and 50 to 60 per cent during the week.
“This isn’t over 24 hours, our sensors monitor parking times based off the parking sign limits which largely match business hours – some open earlier and others close later,” she said.
“We are also able to heat map to understand the places where people linger and focus their attention in the CBD.
“It will come as no surprise that Chemist Warehouse and the discount stores and the cafes seem to be the main attractors at different times of the day.
“The challenge for local businesses then is to take advantage of the opportunities that are presented by passing traffic.
“Thanks to modern technology we have a number of tools at our disposal now to understand the strengths and weaknesses of our CBD.
“And now is a great time to sell the story of the benefit of shopping in the fresh air as opposed to airconditioning.”
Mr Furber has also taken issue with the dining booths at a number of select cafes in the CBD, taking out six parks.
“The RRC initiative for dining booths is not suitable or practical for the Rockhampton CBD; especially those whom have adequate space within their leased property or cater only for takeaway,” he said.
He believes if parking were not an issue, the CBD would be able to “become the destination that locals would want to visit, not ignore or avoid because of the added stress that is required to find a vacant car space”.