Octagon needs upgrade — business owners

Octagon business owners say the area is in need of an upgrade, but are unsure about the proposed multimillion-dollar price tag.

On Tuesday, Dunedin City councillors will receive a report outlining plans to further upgrade the city centre as the council progresses with the central city plan.

Councillors requested a report about various options for upgrading the Octagon in June.

They will receive high-level cost estimates for the Octagon, ranging from $15 million at its lowest to $52 million at its highest.

The Octagon was first laid out in the 1840s, but it was not until the 1890s that it rose to prominence as the centre of Dunedin city.

The last major upgrade took place in the late 1980s.

The Otago Daily Times pounded the pavement yesterday to find out what people wanted for the Octagon.

Everyone the newspaper spoke to agreed the Octagon needed refreshing, but were unsure about the cost.

The Craic owner Claire Grenfell said upgrading the Octagon had been discussed since before the bar opened in 2005.

"It’s been pushed back for quite some time.

"We would like to see the Octagon be more welcoming, perhaps less concrete and more greenery."

The proposed figures quoted "sounded like a lot of money", she said.

However, she was looking forward to the George St upgrades to be complete, and hoped for "something special" for the Octagon.

"There needs to be a real modernisation, making it a shared space."

Emma Freeman, who works at the Dunedin Social Club bar, said she would like to see the Octagon look "tidier", with more parking spaces.

Reading Cinemas Complex manager Megan Collins said she would like to see initiatives that would increase foot traffic, and make it a "good place for people to sit and visit when it’s sunny".

She also wanted to see better access for parking.

Ms Collins said you could "do a lot" with the proposed amounts suggested.

Regent Theatre director Sarah Anderson said the space needed to be "developed as an accessible, vibrant, safe and enjoyable central hub to the city capable of supporting an appropriately diverse range of activities and day-to-day activities reasonable to expect in an evolving, dynamic, artistic and social city centre".

A business case for the remainder of the central city projects to completed during 2024-25 will include the Octagon.

The central city plan grew out of the need to renew the below-groundwater infrastructure and improve road safety access for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

After the development of the business case, the earliest expected date for initiating construction in another quarter after works in George St and Bath St will be in the 2025-26 financial year.

Work to upgrade water infrastructure in Bath St is scheduled to begin in April 2024 and expected to take seven to 12 months to complete.

Staff have undertaken initial consultation and design work for the above-ground amenity upgrade in Bath St to ensure the below and above groundwork is co-ordinated and delivered as a single project.