Bridge Mall business owners have welcomed plans to revitalise the precinct and bring more vehicle and foot traffic to the street.
The Courier revealed that City of Ballarat were considering new proposals to reinvigorate the maligned retail district that has been plagued by vacant shops and declining custom.
The proposals, which will be debated at next week's council meeting, include reopening the mall to traffic and pumping $15 million in to improving the strip.
Messer and Opie manager Tracy Govan said any investment in the precinct was a good thing.
"As far as I'm concerned way whether we open it up to traffic or leave it closed and refurbish it, it doesn't matter what we do it's going to be a good thing.
"It's gotten old and tired and it needs refreshing."
Whatever the council decided to move ahead with, Ms Govan said the whole mall and the people of Ballarat would benefit.
Capri Cafe manager Rose Rix echoed those sentiments, saying anything that bought more people to the area would benefit all retailers.
"Opening the road would be good. We've got to have movement, because if you've got movement you've got people coming through and looking around. There is a lot closed here but if there's some type of activity people do come."
Having worked at the cafe for 15 years, Ms Rix has seen the mood of the mall change.
"It's evolved over that time ... probably a bit of good and bad," she said.
Bridge Mall Business Association acting president Liam Stringer, from Faulls Shoes, was delighted at the prospect of reopening the precinct to traffic.
"For a long time we've wanted some rejuvenation, renovation and activation ... and for this area to be included in the city conversation," he said.
"As a group we are delighted that such an investment is looking to be made down here for all the stakeholders, which includes the people of Ballarat because this is their space."
Mr Stringer said for a long time the precinct seemed "disjointed" from the rest of the CBD and also had a historical benefit to the city with many of the buildings more than 100 years old.
"Retail is hard and getting harder. We need faces in the doors," he said.
Sara Carey from Twisted Fizzers said people tended to only visit one end of the mall, or specific shops, without browsing and seeing what else was on offer.
She said any treatments that got people moving through the mall and past all the businesses trading there would be beneficial for everyone.
"We have been in business here for a year and we still get people coming in saying they didn't know we were here because they don't come down this end of the mall," she said.
"If people drive past they would be able to see what's here."
She even suggested a tram straight up through the mall to Sturt Street could bring similar benefits for the whole CBD, but more security and better parking were essential to whichever proposal that council adopted.
David Wright of Colliers Real Estate said he was very supportive of the investment and re-opening the street to traffic.
"The Bridge Mall is slowly dying and it can't just rely on the private sector to invest in that area and make a change. It has to come from the top."
"The sooner it happens, the better."
The proposals are part of a wider masterplan for Bakery Hill and Bridge Mall that was developed with the help of the Victorian Planning Authority.
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