Who’s Looking After Napier CBD’s Vibrancy?

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After decades of under-use, Napier’s Soundshell is finally getting some much needed action.

A recurring event, called the “Napier Night Fiesta” will be held at the Soundshell on Marine Parade beginning this Friday, 20 November.

Events are set to run for around three hours, one Friday each month and along with entertainment, food and drink the event is aimed at being child and family friendly.

Food stalls at the inaugural event are to include Pipi Pizza, Paella a Go Go, Indigo, Berry Tub Ice Cream and Design Cuisine, with Craggy Range and other local wineries, craft breweries and other vendors set to take part in future Fiestas.

“When we look at what happens in the city throughout the year, and city spaces, you can see the Soundshell is an under-utilised venue. We think it really does lend itself to being used a lot more for events.”

“The Fiesta is one way of making Napier’s centre more lively and encouraging people to use it in a positive way.”

Napier City Council Planner Fleur Lincoln.

Napier City Council says its “City Vision” project was set up to look at “opportunities for creating more vibrancy in the city centre and surrounding areas”. WIFI connected “Chill-out Areas / Urban Oasis” and a “child-friendly Pop N Play” playground on Emerson Street are both City Vision concepts.

I’m a bit conflicted by this new “Fiesta” idea.

Napier has been in dire need of events and attractions for locals like this for years, so it’s great to see some action FINALLY happening!

It’s the sort of event I have been calling for for years and years. All too often, it felt, for nought.

So what took them so long?

In their announcement even the council themselves note it is something that has been missing in the city.

So why wait?

And isn’t this sort of event, rather than being the domain of the council itself, supposed to be something more suited to an organisation like Napier Inner City Marketing?

NICM’s goals, according to their Mission Statement, include:
• A people-centred city – a welcoming destination for tourists and locals to enjoy
• Uniqueness, vibrancy and prosperity
• Creativity and innovation
• Celebrating beauty – vibrant, attracting artistic and creative talent

NICM currently runs a handful of events each year including a city-wide sale in the slowest winter months and a “Random Acts of Kindness Day”, so you’d think something like this Fiesta would fit in nicely and attract more people into town, especially through the CBD and up Emerson Street on the way to the Soundshell.

So why didn’t NICM seize the initiative and take the lead with a project like this years ago?

Or did Napier City Council’s “City Vision” get sick of waiting and steal their thunder?

I have heard from CBD retailers that in recent times the council has organised and gone ahead with a number of decorative and activity-type things in the inner city without consulting NICM members first.

It looks like City Vision’s Chill-out Areas / Urban Oasis is one such development.

One of Inner City Marketing’s other mission goals is “A smart ‘I-city’. Napier City Council already operates free Wifi in parts of the CBD, but City Vision’s Chill-out Areas / Urban Oasis also act as Wifi Hotspots thanks to local telecommunications providers NOW.

Regardless of who is doing it, it’s great to see more activity in Napier’s CBD, especially heading into the summer months.

But you still have to still ask:

Who is really looking after Napier CBD’s vibrancy?

And what took them so long?

P.S.:

The night after Friday Fiesta, Hawke’s Bay’s Indian community will be celebrating Diwali at the Soundshell.

With music dancing and food, it has become one of Napier’s great cultural events and well worth attending!

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