Following on from the Mainstreet Australia National Conference in August and our partnership with the City of Hobart, we are thrilled with the on-going momentum, interest and focus in main street revitalisation that has been built from this incredible experience.
In this collaborative case study, the City of Hobart represents what it means to ‘Think Big, Act Local’ (our 2023 Conference theme) by reflecting on their economic development, placemaking and transformation strategies, as well as the current landscape for Hobart’s main street businesses, local shopping precincts and revitalisation projects.
- Future Hobart: Making Places Better Together – public forum video
- Invest Hobart Prospectus
- City Economy Discussion Paper
How many main streets and privately owned shopping centres in your LGA? How many shops/small businesses per centre?
There are some larger business activity zones, corresponding to: New Town, Lenah Valley, North Hobart, Central Hobart / CBD, Hill Street, Salamanca, South Hobart, Sandy Bay, Hampton Road/Battery Point, Lower Sandy Bay and Mt Nelson. Outside of Central Hobart / CBD, these activity zones are largely ‘main streets’ – with the main large shopping centre being the New Town Kmart precinct.
The city centre includes a network of laneways and arcades which facilitate a particular retail experience, and is supported by a number of signature retail outlets. The Myer department store is another major retail anchor located in the city centre. The City of Hobart (CoH) LGA has 6,529 small businesses, which is the state’s highest density – this means a massive 97% of our businesses are small businesses (June 2021).
Do you have a coordinated centre management model, to manage the marketing and business development of your main street/s?
No, we don’t at this stage, because we don’t have a ‘city heart’ marketing body and are still evolving our approach to best meet the needs of our businesses and retailers.
What are the key challenges that are being faced by your main streets, and their individual businesses?
Because Hobart has a higher number of specialised shops that are not chain stores these businesses are more susceptible to the impacts of an economic downturn as they tend to be more specialised (i.e. discretionary spending). If they close it would be a significant loss for Hobart.
Tasmania was less impacted by COVID19 than the majority of other places within Australia (except maybe WA) because internal spending on the island was able to support the economy, however businesses dependent on interstate and international visitors were severely impacted. The post-COVID-19 rebound has been fast and most noticeable in the visitor numbers, which are now similar to those before the pandemic. This has been very beneficial for the Food & Beverage sector, which has grown the fastest.
Tell us about your key economic development, transformation and placemaking strategies that you are pursuing for your main streets.
What follows are some of the current projects that seek to improve the quality and functionality of our main streets:
- The city is currently undertaking Stage 2 of the New Town retail precinct and Stage 3 of the Salamanca Place upgrade;
- The street-side dining trial is underway to increase the outdoor dining opportunities for businesses;
- The Central Hobart plan envisions an increase in inner-city living which will increase shop demand in central Hobart. Furthermore, we have commenced the process of reimagining our key retail and movement spines (Elizabeth and Collins Street) as more vibrant places that will attract greater footfall;
- The City is also undertaking Neighbourhood Plans for Mt Nelson/Sandy Bay, North Hobart and the inner north-east area of the city;
- We have delivered the Revive Your 9 to 5 campaign that encouraged city workers back into the CBD and provided a retail shopfront assessment and small grant program.
What are some obstacles you have faced when designing and implementing strategies in your main streets?
The impact of construction and project delivery can negatively disrupt trading patterns. Alongside this, the city is limited by our financial capacity to deliver projects, even more so given other competing demands.
Who or what has led revitalisation projects of main streets in your LGA?
All the suburban retail precincts were co-designed with local stakeholders and in close partnership, with the active support of the City of Hobart.
What lessons can be learnt from your main street strategies?
There is a strong need, and multiple benefits, to work closely and collaboratively with business and community stakeholders. Along with the need for local businesses and property owners to have shared ownership of the desired outcomes. This is particularly relevant given Hobart’s small population and tight-knit community.
– City of Hobart