Australian cities are scrambling to save the CBD
Vale the CBD, right?
You would be forgiven for thinking you were on some sort of film set if you walked through the quiet streets of any of Australia’s CBDs over the past two years.
Traditionally regarded as buzzing hives of activity, the pandemic swiftly emptied offices, removed foot traffic, and shut down hospitality venues in city centres around the country.
While there’s no doubt the CBD was impacted by COVID, to declare them dead would be a mistake says PwC Australia. Instead, the consultancy firm believes CBDs are undergoing a transformation.
Hybrid working models will likely lead to previous tenants reducing their floorspace, triggering cheaper rent, and allowing previously priced out businesses, entrepreneurs, and organisations to take up residence.
To sure up the survival of CBDs, state and territory governments are considering all sorts of plans that would facilitate this transformation.
Reinventing city centres
From outdoor amphitheaters to free parking policies, governments around the country are looking at short and long-term plans to help bring life back to abandoned city centres.
A report released by the Committee for Sydney and consultancy group Arup in January proposed new ideas that look to reimagine Sydney’s CBD. Outdoor performance spaces, designated teen areas like skate parks, community gardening and rich cultural infrastructure were among the top recommendations.
The proposal looks to encourage pedestrian-friendly and sustainable travel in the long-term by reducing the presence of trucks, vans, and public transport in certain areas and during certain times. This initiative contrasts with short-term efforts to rejuvenate the CBDs of Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide which spruiked free parking throughout the pandemic.
How many cars will be a part of the future of CBDs remains to be seen but what’s clear is that the CBD is far from death. Instead, city centres appear to be in the midst of an afternoon kip that city planners, local councils and businesses hope will re-energise, reimagine and transform these once-lucrative districts.
- The price of renting commercial property in and around the CBD is likely to decrease, making it more of a viable location for smaller businesses.
- Access to the city centre has historically been regarded as a selling point in the property sector, but that may no longer a given.
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