Fight to save Lismore's ailing CBD
AS THE number of empty shops in Lismore's CBD continues to rise, concerned retailers said the town needs an immediate and holistic approach to combat its decline.
According to business owners, Lismore City Council needs to "get real" about the challenges facing the CBD which currently has more than 45 vacant shop spaces.
This comes several long-term retailers, including Toyworld, McKenzie's Outdoors 'n' Disposals and Boutique Shoes close and chain stores Spotlight and Chandlers Lismore relocate to South Lismore.
According to business owners, the challenges they face go beyond the current economic downturn.
One shop-owner who chose to speak anonymously, said people are coping with the drought while many are still recovering from the 2017 flood.
"Council seems disinterested, landlords charge unrealistic rents and online shopping is increasing," he said.
Magellan St's Peppertree Kitchen proprietor Helen Nott said she hopes Council understands how high rates impact on small business.
"I see it holding me back," she said.
"I'm a firm believer if we can have some more shops open, we can all pull together (but) everyone is hurting, it's not an easy time we are faced with."
Lismore Chamber of Commerce and Industry executive officer, Elise Taylor, said the Lismore CBD needs to find its competitive edge.
"LCCI would like to see the implementation of a CBD revitalisation strategy that focuses on a holistic approach encompassing not only rates and rents ... also accessibility and beautification with a goal to revitalise the block and create an atmosphere which will encourage foot traffic," Ms Taylor said.
Lismore Jewel Centre's Gary Pinkerton said he's noticed the decline in foot-traffic.
"On the positive side the upgrading of Lismore Hospital brings specialists and visitors who shop here," he said.
"Southern Cross University encourages people to study and live here but we need more office space utilised down-town to put more life on the streets."
Retailers suggest Council:
- Repair and upgrade the streetscape
- Drop rates
- Move its office back into the CBD
- Encourage landlords charge realistic rents
- Attract State and Federal government offices to town
Council has been contacted for comment.