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Markets in the alleyways, projected animation in empty shop fronts and a revamp of Wachner Place, complete with a grass verge and seating for theatre events, were discussed with excitement during a consultation on the Invercargill inner-city revamp.

However, the designers are still looking for creative input from the people who use the central business district the most.

The Invercargill City Council has opened up a consultation shop at 66 Esk St today so people can have their say from 9am till 7pm.

Pocock Design Environment director Craig Pocock will answer questions from the community and there is even an offer of free ice-cream to pull in the crowds.

Council director of works and services Cameron McIntosh said opinions from the community were important because the CBD had to be a place people felt safe while being a comfortable resting spot to meet friends.

It also had to be a place Invercargill people could be proud of, he said.

Yesterday, Architecture Van Brandenburg architects Damien Van Brandenburg, Fred Van Brandenburg and Pocock's landscape architect Chris Chen got a head start on today's consultation workshop by chatting with Southern Institute of Technology students about the CBD.

The students looked over the plans with the architects, commenting on the potential the city centre had to be more modern.

SIT visual arts tutor Kathryn Mitchell said her students had been looking at ways to turn the concrete area of Wachner Place into a meeting place that had grass, shelter from the weather, and a theatre space that would draw more outdoor performances to the city centre.

Other suggestions included forming a maintenance committee to clean up the empty shop fronts and having animation projected inside. More studio space for artists and the possibility of having a business "incubator" in the centre to support a structure for people to start small businesses was also discussed.

Fred Van Brandenburg said the architects and designers would be "like sponges" as they listened to the community in the next few days.

"We're coming in with a professional outlook and it is good for us to get a lay person's outlook of the CBD as well."

CBD inner city working committee chairman Norman Elder said all the health and safety issues had been identified and explored. There was now room to address some of the more creative ideas.

Designers would be coming back to the committee with a proposed design following the consultation. Costing would be assessed and the proposed plans would then go before the council.

The first stage of the multi-million-dollar revamp was expected to begin within six months.

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