Following the arrival of Wellington Council’s new CEO, Englishman Kevin Lavery, I broke my life-long wariness of contact with Kevins and invited him to our office for drinks. “So what’s your impression of Wellington?” I asked. “It screams out for pedestrianisation,” Kevin replied, unsurprisingly as all English cities have pedestrianised their CBD centres, so too throughout Europe, North America, Australia and the more advanced Latin American nations.
I told Kevin of my efforts to promote the pedestrianisation of Lambton Quay two elections back. There was a positive feedback from sophisticated retailers and people such as the capital’s leading CBD retail leasing agent, Ty Dallas of Colliers. Conversely, it elicited some mind-boggling stupidity, none more so than from John Milford, then manager of the city’s only department store, Kirkcaldie, who told the Dominion Post he was opposed as his customers like to park outside. Pointing out that there were no parks outside Kirks made no difference.
No surprise then that Kirks was slowly going broke. Indeed, as my company owns the building, we had already drawn up plans to chop it into shops. Then I suggested to Kirks’ long-suffering chairman that he approach David Jones, given its new owners were plainly into international expansion.
CBD businesses are rarely forward looking and fear anything but the status quo. In provincial towns this is even worse, and their power over development, or even what kind of business is allowed to set up is remarkable in its likeness to a mafia protection racket. Read more »