Revitalise Our Places Ōamaru (ROPO)

Published on 04 June 2024


Waitaki District Council is excited to announce the launch of Revitalise Our Places Ōamaru (ROPO), a brokerage programme that will turn empty shops from vacant into vibrant. This programme represents a significant milestone in our CBD Revitalisation plan to add vibrancy back to our main street.

As a response to the community’s post-pandemic concerns about the number of vacant spaces and closed businesses in our shopping area along Thames St, a six-month pilot brokerage project is designed to fill these spaces for 30 day periods in-between the times when there is a commercial tenant. These programmes are about highlighting people making and presenting original items, ideas, concepts and interactions with their pop-ups.

These programmes showcase or ‘stage’ these empty spaces to highlight the opportunities within them to support attraction of new long-term tenants. Waitaki District Council is proud to be bringing this programme to Ōamaru. Designed to not compete with the existing businesses, only to add to the CBD’s experience by supporting our local creative community to showcase their artistry and talent. It also showcases the opportunities that these available spaces can provide to a new commercial tenant.

Beth Strickland, ROPO Programme Coordinator says: “This entire programme is designed to encourage innovative ideas, new initiatives which are not directly in competition with existing businesses”. This is also an opportunity to commercially stage these spaces, much like you would if you were staging a home to sell, to highlight the opportunity to budding entrepreneurs or business start-ups.”

The broker programme matches vacant spaces with property owners and eligible projects. “It is very encouraging to see a practical initiative that has the potential to bring life and vibrancy to our main street” says Alan McLay of One Agency.

‘Turning Vacant into Vibrant’

A Pop-Up launch event: The programme will kick off with a pop-up event commencing from early-June – where the community can engage with creatives, community and start-up businesses who bring vitality into vacant spaces in Ōamaru’s CBD. The event activates five vacant shops along Thames Street with six projects.

Cyndi Christensen, Placemaking Lead says: “Since the beginning of May, ROPO has called for expressions of interest from Creative, Community Groups or Start-Up businesses which include cultural, social, creative, or economic needs in the community. The positive feedback from the community to date has been astounding. We are unearthing not just creative projects but business startups as well. “

These projects will bring these spaces to life along Thames Street for the month of June. Here are a couple of look out for;

‘Us.’ Creative Studio will bring to life 167 Thames Street, featuring a collective of artists, Colette O’Kane has been planning for this opportunity for the last few months with a few fellow artists. Us. Will feature a variety of activities as well as an opportunity to meet the artists and enjoy their work.

Waste Free Waitaki/ The Kelpery. Down at 179 Thames St will have a sustainability focus with Waste Free Waitaki and The Kelpery sharing this space to bring awareness of repurposing, reduce and reuse.

Alex Campbell Menswear. We also welcome the new Alex Campbell Menswear pop-up at 137 Thames St. While not officially a ROPO project, Owner Lindsay Campbell is a self-described ‘King of pop-ups' and suited the mission of activating empty shops saying: ”We like to push the envelope in our business and part of our success and our longevity is aggressive marketing in the form of about 20 Popup stores over the last 15 years. I’ve got it down to a formula now and some of my suppliers and regular customers refer to me as the king of the Popups.”

Join us for the month of June to welcome these creative offerings into the CBD, there is so much more to look for, from film to photography, and this is only the beginning.