An artist impression of the revitalised Denham St streetscape.
An artist impression of the revitalised Denham St streetscape. Amber Hooker

EXPLAINED: The future of Rockhampton's CBD

BEFORE we get too carried away with what Rockhampton's Central Business District will look like in 20 years, it's important to understand reinvigorating the CBD is about more than a facelift.

The Rockhampton CBD Redevelopment Framework draft report looks to the broader picture and considers that CBDs are considered the "front doors" for investment, government and visitors, and represent a region's aspirations, brand and regional image.

Find out more about the 6 big projects to transform Rockhampton's CBD here.

On a local level, Rockhampton is in direct competition with neighbouring regions for investment; for both State and Federal Government infrastructure funding, which could further become a catalyst for private sector investment.

Compared with Townsville, Mackay, Toowoomba and Gladstone, Rockhampton performs strongly in some key measures of strength, but there is certainly room to improve (see graph).

 

THE REGIONAL PICTURE: Rockhampton CBD versus competing regions, as outlined in the Rockhampton CBD Redevelopment Framework.
THE REGIONAL PICTURE: Rockhampton CBD versus competing regions, as outlined in the Rockhampton CBD Redevelopment Framework. Rockhampton Regional Council

Let's take jobs for example; not a day goes by when employment isn't a hot topic of conversation among Rockhampton region locals - and more broadly, Central Queenslanders.

But where will they come from?

Already, Rockhampton ranks better on CBD employment than any of our regional neighbours at 6.2% of the regional population; compared to the lowest centre, Mackay, at 1.7%.

Looking ahead to just one of the Rockhampton CBD Redevelopment Framework's catalyst projects, Brand Rockhampton, CBD employment is expected to increase by 210%.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Rockhampton mayor Margaret Strelow made a joint announcement Monday on the $14 million commercial-residential apartment block to be built the corner of William and Bolsover streets.

Both said the joint state-council project would generate 40 jobs during construction.

 

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Deputy Premier Jackie Trad joined member for Rockhampton Bill Byrne and Rockhampton Region Mayor Margaret Strelow to officially launch the CBD Redevelopment Framework this morning.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Deputy Premier Jackie Trad joined member for Rockhampton Bill Byrne and Rockhampton Region Mayor Margaret Strelow to officially launch the CBD Redevelopment Framework this morning. Allan Reinikka ROK300117awilliam

Cr Strelow said it would demonstrate to the community and broader development sector that this is "something that our community actively wants".

"Every job matters in our community and in other regional communities," Cr Strelow said.

"This isn't the only project that we're working with the State Government on, we have recently seen $9.3 million committed to this region under the Jobs for Queensland, Working Queensland program.

"We will continue to consistently work, but this project is one that's particularly excited us because of the way it dovetails with what is already an extensive revitalisation program here in the CBD, and you are seeing the benefits of that now."

 

William and Bolsover Streets, The Two Professors.
A $14 million residential/commercial multi-storey development is destined for the corner of William and Bolsover Streets, and will wrap around The Two Professors. Allan Reinikka ROK300117atwoprof

It appears Rockhampton isn't short on day visitors either at 6.7% of the region's populations, compared to worst performers; 2.9% in Townsville and Gladstone. Toowoomba ranks the highest at 6.9%.

Under the Brand Rockhampton project, the number of day visitors is expected to increase 421%.

But Rockhampton performs lowest in its Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) on 846, which relates to the CBD's relative socio-economic advantage and disadvantage rank in comparison to all areas across Australia.

The SEIFA indexes are rankings. Each index ranks different geographic areas of Australia according to a 'score' that is created for the area based on characteristics of people, families and dwellings in that area.

For all of the indexes, relative disadvantage is associated with a low number.

 

Rockhampton central business district overview as outlined in the Rockhampton CBD Redevelopment Framework.
Rockhampton central business district overview as outlined in the Rockhampton CBD Redevelopment Framework. Rockhampton Regional Council

A quick look at the current CBD position shows 564,294 domestic day visitors in the CBD each year, $30.8m in centre investment, 5,619 jobs and 387 businesses in the CBD (see graph).

So all things considered, how will Rockhampton stand out from the crowd?

The Framework outlines three sub-strategies which define the ambition and key projects that, over a period of time, will catalyse change and reinvigorate the CBD.

 

HISTORIC CBD: Passengers aboard the steam train which ran through East St, Rockhampton in 1908.
A flashback to when the CBD reigned supreme: Passengers aboard the steam train, which ran through East St, Rockhampton in 1908. Clothing store Stewart's still stands on the corner today.

STRATEGY A: A Thriving and dynamic CBD

Aims:

a) Grow business and investment in the CBD

b) A vibrant place to live

c) Supporting creativity and innovation

A few ideas on how this will look:

Brand Rockhampton

A future CBD fresh food market as a CBD focal point

Install a major events screen for external events and gatherings

Undertake investigations to deliver CBD conferencing facilities, to host 300 people

Find uses for currently vacant or disused buildings in the CBD

Stimulate the night-time economy and extend trading hours

A river jetty and commercialisation of the river, including tourism

A formal East Street Markets and Riverside Dining Precinct

A Military R&R Hub to provide a central space for military personnel to gather and enjoy the city

Identify new offers and untapped retail markets

A pop-up retail/kiosk strategy

STRATEGY B: A legible and connected CBD

Aims:

a) A defined arrival and road hierarchy

b) Destination infrastructure

c) Active and healthy connections

d) Parking to support vibrancy and business

 

Artist Impression of the housing project on the corner of William and Bolsover streets.
Artist Impression of the housing project on the corner of William and Bolsover streets. Amber Hooker

A few ideas on how this will look:

CBD Living Project

Second-storey living project, identifying conversion opportunities

Identifying under-utilised land for residential development

CBD short-term accommodation close to transport

Retirement and aged care housing to increase diversity

Student Housing Project in the CBD

Safety; lighting, security and wayfinding measures

A Boutique cinema within the CBD

On-street dining program, with a particular focus on Quay St

A Community Dance Hall

STRATEGY C: A memorable, sustainable and enduring CBD

Aims:

a) Arts, culture, story and entertainment

b) Leafy and shaded streets and spaces

c) Sustainable built form and celebrating heritage

 

Quay st Riverside.
Quay st Riverside. Allan Reinikka ROK081216ariversi

A few ideas on how this will look:

Roll-out more beacons around the CBD

Expand the Sensor Project, gather real-time data on what's going on around the city

Expand the Smart Hub and co-working spaces

Deliver Venture Capital Program to support start up businesses

CBD Tertiary Education and training Campus

Expanded Free WiFi

Innovation Competition or Bursary sponsored by Council

A CBD Digital Strategy