Tuggeranong has enjoyed some much needed attention over the last few weeks, with politicians and business owners alike weighing in with ideas about how to revitalise our beloved town centre.
In line with the 2012 Tuggeranong Master Plan, the ACT Government recently announced an increase in building heights and a rezoning of some land to allow for expanded retail and residential development.
This is a fantastic first step in achieving the long term vision of a revitalised Tuggeranong town centre.
However, those of us who work in Tuggeranong know that we also need some short term solutions, and we need them now.
For much of the last year I’ve lamented as restaurants and shops have closed, and more empty office space and shop fronts have appeared in the town centre.
One bright spark in Tuggeranong is the formerly empty shop front that is now occupied by the Graffik Paint Gallery, a joint initiative of the Tuggeranong Arts Centre and the Hyperdome. The gallery is a studio and exhibition space for emerging local artists, and a wonderful addition to the town centre.
Being creative about how we use empty space will be key to Tuggeranong’s revitalisation. Pop up businesses are one option worth exploring. Pop ups have a proven ability to transform vacant space into thriving, diverse precincts. They give new businesses a chance to trial retailing without having to commit to a permanent lease, and they allow building owners to fill empty space quickly.
The ACT Government has also announced a CIT Campus for Tuggeranong – another opportunity for short term revitalisation. I’ve urged the ACT Government to use existing buildings in the heart of the town centre to house CIT or to base a new build on Anketell Street.
I’ve written in the Chronicle previously about ‘Postcode 2900’ – a plan to turn empty office space into apartments and townhouses. More residential space in the heart of Tuggeranong will bring much needed density and vitality.
Tuggeranong does need long term change to create a sustainable town centre. But it also needs short term solutions to support businesses now. There are plenty of options. We just need to make them happen.
Published in the Canberra Chronicle, July 2014