Changes are coming to Nelson’s CBD with several buildings being leased or sold in the past month.
A range of properties on Hardy St, Bridge St, and Trafalgar St are all set to have new owners or lessees from September.
One of the new businesses will be an Asian fusion restaurant, replacing what was the Char Bar and Grill on the corner of Collingwood and Hardy Streets.
The site has been leased by Asian Garden Hospitality, which runs a collection of restaurants throughout the South Island and Wellington, including Nelson’s Thai Tahuna.
Director Murray Macarthy said the new restaurant would provide a similar street food offering to its Christchurch and Dunedin restaurants, Hutong, Le Xom and Commi.
Macarthy said it would be a much more casual, informal offering than a regular restaurant.
“We’ve always been looking for something in town – we think what we’re offering is not really in Nelson at all.”
The nearby Collingwood St Masonic Temple has also sold in the past month after its Freemason owners put it on the market due to due to rising maintenance and steep earthquake strengthening costs.
Other businesses have moved premises within the CBD, including both Flight Centre and House of Travel.
ActionTech, which specialises in cameras and drones (ranging between $600 and $80,000), have also relocated from Vanguard St to a more central location on Bridge St.
The lease for the former Cheryl Mackie Boutique building at 50 Bridge St has also been bought in the past week.
Colliers commercial real estate agent Debbie Cade said the lease was snapped up almost as soon as it became available.
“I think people are still very keen on face to face communication with people they are buying from. All the indicators we see are are still pointing towards that.”
She said the Nelson CBD was in good heart.
“We are very quickly running out of spaces. It’s not as dire as some people would have you believe out there.
“There’s always going to be capacity in the system, but that’s what you need. If you don’t have any capacity in the system for people to go to, you get stagnant.”
Uniquely Nelson manager Simon Duffy said there had been more positivity in the CBD compared to previous winters.
Duffy said there hadn’t been as much of the “grizzle factor” from businesses this winter.
“Normally come June, July, August people are grizzling, but we haven’t had that this year. Normally there’s not a lot of positivity in Nelson during winter because we’re at the bottom of that bell curve.”
He said the main disruption for businesses on Hardy St had not been the weather but rather interruptions from roadworks, which had lasted for about two-and-a-half months this winter.
Duffy said retailers were adapting to attract customers back into the CBD.
He said social media for retail and hospitality had “stepped up tenfold” in the past 12-18 months, with businesses becoming more effective at marketing their services online.
There had also been a bigger focus on events in the city centre, with six planned between September and February.
“It’s about giving people an experience. Fifty per cent off doesn’t work anymore, [events] give people another reason to come back into town.”
Credit: Tim Newman / Stuff