$30 million CBD upgrade is the top priority in council's draft budget

CHANGE IS NEEDED: Cheeky Barista Cafe owner Rodney Soo has called for expertise from out of town to revitalise the Orange CBD. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 05112jksoo2
CHANGE IS NEEDED: Cheeky Barista Cafe owner Rodney Soo has called for expertise from out of town to revitalise the Orange CBD. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 05112jksoo2

A $30 million upgrade of the CBD over two years to attract retailers and make it a community magnet is the key item in Orange City Council’s draft budget.

The upgrade would require $20 million in government funding for which council would seek grants.

Deputy mayor and council finance committee chair Cr Joanne McRae said it was a vital project.

Cr McRae said council would be looking at everything from WiFi hotspots to renewing the paving, installing under-awning lighting and providing community meeting places.

She said  council would seek advice about how best to rejuvenate the centre of town.

“Residents can be assured we’ll be consulting with expert designers and putting the best ideas out for community discussion,” she said.

“The CBD is a major concern for residents.

“[It] is at the heart of our community and it’s critical that we invest to bring it up to the standards of a modern, growing, vibrant city.

“The design stage is going to take a lot of work and this is only the first step, but it’s a very important project for the people of Orange.

“Whether it’s simple steps like improving the coloured street lights and adding free WiFi or bigger changes like putting in place what’s needed to attract key retailers and making it a place people can meet, this is what needs to be explored.”

Mayor Reg Kidd said it should create jobs.

“One of the biggest employment sectors in Orange is retail and a major shot-in-the-arm for the CBD is a key part of that,” he said.

Retailer Rodney Soo, who owns the Cheeky Barista Cafe in Summer Street, called for expert advice from out of town.

“I’d actually like to see an expert person to come into the CBD and give some ideas and revitalise the CBD,” he said.

“It would be good to get someone who can look straight across the board.”

Mr Soo said the loss of Myer was still being felt, particularly as he believed it had led to a drop in people from other towns shopping in Orange.

“Shopping at the moment is dead,” he said.

“We are missing the out-of-towners, for us losing Myer was a big hit,” he said.

Mr Soo said Orange needed more unique shops to attract consumers.

“Many people have been talking about Target, ‘why can’t we have Target?” Mr Soo said.

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