HAMILTON - Hamilton's historic railway suburb of Frankton looks likely to get a facelift.
Businesspeople in the area known affectionately as The Village want the Hamilton City Council to recognise Frankton's status as the cultural centre of Hamilton and finance an upgrade.
The Frankton Business Association says the suburb has missed out on crucial maintenance and development in the past 20 years.
The association wants to capitalise on Frankton's strengths: its village atmosphere, its cultural diversity, and its market day, similar to that held in Otara, South Auckland.
In a report to a council committee today, the association says: "Nowhere in Hamilton is there a place where people of all races and cultures can meet, mingle and interact together, as occurs at Frankton during the Saturday morning markets."
The proposed upgrade would include new car-parking spaces, toilets, street lighting, signposting, pedestrian-friendly streetscapes, and the development of a theme.
Businesses also want one-way Kent St reopened to two-way traffic to revive Frankton's south end.
The report says that although there had been no nightlife in the area in recent years, the village's special character gave it the potential to take off in the evenings, with outdoor dining and evening markets.
Terry Forlong, of Forlong's Furnishings, said Frankton had evolved from a railway town to a thriving business community of mainly owner-operators.
It had survived the demise of the Frankton goods yard, the original Main Trunk Station, and the support of New Zealand Railways.
However, the city had given it little financial support. A similar report to the council five years ago was shelved, and few of its recommendations were acted on.
The council committee will today consider a staff proposal that staff work with the business association to develop a plan for upgrading and report back in October with costs.