New trust chairman looks for vibrancy in precinct

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Everyone believes in the dream – that’s why we are there, was the phrase used by the new chairman of the Whitestone Civic Trust, Peter Garvan, commenting on the aspirations of trust members.

“We don’t just turn up to meetings and do our business, we live and breathe it,” he said.

“We are constantly talking and emailing about issues.”

Mr Garvan said trustees all want the historic precinct to be vibrant.

“Some believe it should be (portrayed as) a Victorian town at work, some think it should be commercial and others a niche or different market.”

Mr Garvan, who is a qualified lawyer, is a past president of the North Otago Club and was heavily involved in restoring the Category I Historic Places Trust building from 2005 to 2013.

He is also a former committee member of the North Otago branch of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust and was chairman of the Harbour Committee from 2010-2013 and a committee member for six years.

The Whitestone Civic Trust was formed in 1988 and began its commercial life by purchasing eight buildings for $80,000. Mr Garvan said it now owns 15-16 buildings.

When asked about a recent comment made regarding the precinct, “that we have made the cake but haven’t iced it,” he responded by saying that the trust needs to”‘lift the bar higher”, businesses need to be open longer and that the aim of the trust is for the precinct to be open 365 days of the year to achieve credibility.

“This is starting to happen but there is still work to be done.

“We’re looking for unity, not in the sense that we all agree but exciting, innovative and profitable business.”

He said the Farmers Market, which is open each Sunday for 50 weeks of the year, the Steampunk playground, Cucina 1871 Restaurant and Bar, and Scott’s Brewery were all examples of the wider community contributing to the vibrancy of the precinct.

By LINDA MCCARTHY