Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau has released her plan to revitalise the Courtenay Place precinct, which she dubbed “our premier place to play”.
The plan aims to improve experience and safety in the area, improve the image and reputation of Courtenay Place, and attract investment.
Courtenay Place and Cuba St play home to 95 restaurants and bars and five theatres and have an annual consumer spend of $500m, but the area has become dilapidated in recent years.
Whanau said revitalising the area was one of her top priorities as Mayor. The Courtenay precinct plan was one of the few areas that survived cost cuts in her long term plan budget.
“There is a lot of agreement on what people want for the area – to be busy and vibrant day and night, offering a great experience for families, students, professionals and business owners as well as people enjoying an evening out. We want a colourful, creative destination that attracts residents, tourists and investment into the area,” Whanau said in a statement.
“The plan outlines some big initiatives that will be a game changer for the area, like the redevelopment of Reading Cinemas. But also, shorter-term projects like additional cleaning, introducing festoon lighting to side streets and night-time safety support. These projects will have an immediate effect, making Courtenay Place brighter, cleaner, safer and more attractive.”
The specific plans outlined are:
- Regular targeted and community cleanups.
- A new ‘Courtenay East’ dining precinct, with street activations and live music nights.
- Stronger safety support networks, working with police, Māori wardens, and community groups.
- An upgrade of Te Aro Park that celebrates its history as the site of Te Aro Pā, improved lighting,
- A refurbished Opera House and Reading cinema, and a new mid-sized venue
- Improved lighting, such as festoon lighting on side streets.
- Efforts to highlight independent businesses.
- In the long term, a denser neighbourhood.
The Courtenay Precinct plan is separate from the Golden Mile upgrade, which focused on street-level changes with wider footpaths and restricted private vehicle access. The Golden Mile plan is currently in limbo. Transport Minister Simeon Brown has said he wanted to cancel the project if the contract wasn’t signed.
Despite indicating in October that the contract for the project was “literally days away”, Whanau confirmed on Friday that it has still not been signed.
“We’ll need time to work through what the incoming Government’s direction to stop work on LGWM means for a range of projects, including the Golden Mile,” she told The Spinoff.
“It is my intention to meet with the new Transport Minister as soon as possible to discuss the Golden Mile and other key projects. I will be making the case that we continue to progress many of these projects that are supported by a majority of Wellingtonians. But I am open to different ways of working together and getting things done.”