Cairns local business owners share their hopes and ideas for a revamped Esplanade

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Cairns business owners have shared what they would like to see from a revamped Esplanade.

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning confirmed an upgrade to the section of the Esplanade between Shields and Aplin streets would take place as part of the council’s CBD masterplan.

The Courtyard manager Matt Black said he would like to see more colourful lighting and art installations along the Esplanade opposite the business strip.

“Adding colourful lights, getting more art installations in from local artists like the stingrays, and upgrading the barbecues would get more families down here,” he said.

“If you can clear out the cars and open it up to foot traffic, you could get a lot more business.”

Cairns Chamber of Commerce recently undertook a survey showing more than 90 per cent of members supported beautifying the area of the Esplanade between Shields and Aplin streets.

The survey also showed most members supported closing the area off to traffic on certain occasions, with 34.15 per cent arguing it should be closed for special events, 29.76 per cent arguing it should be closed on weekends and 39.02 per cent arguing it should be closed in the early evening.

Oasis Kebab and Pizza owner Kellee Martorella said she was concerned about the length of time an upgrade project would take.

“We’ve already suffered a lot with the construction work happening on the Esplanade, people tend not to go near construction sites,” she said.

“If we were going to extend our outdoor dining area, there’d be more cost involved and less cover, so it would also need to plan around that … more seating and more shade.”

Cairns Chamber of Commerce president Nick Loukas welcomed the council’s move to upgrade the Esplanade.

“We know at this stage that they’re doing concept drawings, and once those are complete and made available, we’ll start doing consultation,” he said.

“Our hope is to see a firm plan by the end of this year, and we’d even like to see construction start happening soon after that.”

When asked what he’d like to see from a beautification project, Mr Loukas said the drawings produced by Crystalbrook Collection last year were a good start.

“That shows the sort of things we’d like to see, room for activity, more of a shared access road with nice walkways, ambience,” he said.

“We want something that will bring locals back to the area, not just tourists.”

Mr Loukas said he would like to see an upgrade to make the roads easily closeable and let the community decide when it should be closed.

“It wouldn’t need a massive amount of traffic controllers, just something that could be closed more often,” he said.

“Personally I’d like to have it closed to traffic just on weekends, but we’d need to engage the community to determine that.”

Mr Black and Ms Martorella both supported closing the strip to traffic in the evenings.

Originally published via The Cairns Post

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