By Dylan J Stone
When you take a stroll down Argent Street, you might be shocked to notice the number of empty shopfronts that populate the CBD.
A once thriving business district, in the largest city in Far Western NSW, now looks like it’s best days are in the past. However, is this a fair comment to make?
A significant trend in the last decade has been the loss of tenants in some of the larger buildings.
However, local businessman Peter Nash argues that the resurgence of smaller independent businesses has allowed the CBD to “(look) more vibrant than it has in a decade or two!”
“Argent St has transformed in the last few years with (new) stores like Sitting Bull, The Deli, Marble Arch, Hocko’s Bike Shop and the new bookshop complementing existing stores.” Mr Nash declared.
Broken Hill Mayor Tom Kennedy agrees, commenting that “confidence is growing” and that the Mayor is confident “Argent Street shops will start to fill” as a result of development in and around Broken Hill.
The creation of new employment opportunities due to the growth in the mining sector and other sectors in the short to medium terms will also attract thousands of new residents to Broken Hill.
An expanding community requires a thriving and lively CBD to accommodate for our increasing population, and the re-emergence of smaller independent businesses demonstrates the business community is willing and able to accommodate this growth.
The partnership between the Council and a local printing business to place large prints of historic photos on the windows of some vacant shops provided a brilliant indication of how some shopfronts looked in the past.
Notwithstanding, this beautification project also demonstrated the goal of the Council and the business community to transition the CBD into a renewed hub of business and community activity for the future, by instilling community interest, history and engagement into Argent Street.
To say the best days of Argent Street are in the past is as incorrect as it is offensive.
Instead, the re-emergence of smaller independent stores, and the beautification projects undertaken by business and Council partnerships, is a reflection of strong business and community confidence in contrast to the most significant economic challenges in almost a century.
So, Argent Streets’ best days are certainly ahead, and as the CBD transitions to the future, we reflect on our past to understand that challenging times come and go, but our community resolve is everlasting, which makes Broken Hill as resilient as it does beautiful.