CBD is back in vogue

By ALLAN McNEILallanm@gladstoneobserver.com.au

GLADSTONE'S City Heart appears to be beating once again. Occupancy rates are high and local business owners are investing considerable amounts in the CBD, on the back of local confidence.

A survey of Gladstone CBD businesses found that about 90 per cent of the 319 businesses in the city centre were occupied.

This is in contrast to a survey conducted in April 2003, which showed that as many as 25 per cent of shops were vacant in some parts of the CBD.

Michele Archay from Cavaliers Menswear has been part of the Gladstone CBD for seven years and said it had certainly turned a corner.

In fact she has so much confidence in Gladstone's city heart that she is spending a considerable amount of money giving her shop a face lift, as are other CBD business owners.

"With the motels around the area you get a lot of window shoppers and tourists,'' she said.

"Nine times out of 10 your first customer in the morning is a tourist or visitor to the area.''

About 18 months ago the city heart was a proverbial ghost town, with the worst area being the one-way section from William Street to Roseberry Street, where 14 of the 58 shops were vacant.

Today this area has attracted a number of new businesses who have increased occupancy rates and spent considerable capital on new shop fronts.

Gladstone City Heart vice chair Darin Dittman said the CBD area had made a significant turn around.

"It certainly has picked up in recent years,'' Mr Dittman said.

"Even outside the CBD in places like Auckland Street you are starting to see the effects.

"I remember when Tank Street was somewhere you would never set up a business, but now it is going strong.''

Mr Dittman said the upcoming CBD revitalisation project was likely to make the city heart even more popular.

Mr Dittman said the shops in the city heart that were vacant were usually hard to rent due to their size.

One example was the old Target shop in Goondoon Street."If the owners divided it into three spaces they would rent it straight away, but because of its size it is hard to find a tenant to fill it,'' Mr Dittman said.

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