Businesses around the iconic Sydney and Melbourne buildings have broadly welcomed a $4.5 million revamp of the city centre including the space in front of arguably Canberra's most elegant non-political buildings.
The aim is to transform the core of the city into a much more pedestrian friendly area, with more space for street cafes.
The Sydney and Melbourne buildings were modelled in the 1920s on Italian palaces and monasteries with arched arcades or loggias. When the buildings were constructed, they had open first floor verandas which have since been enclosed.
With this original Italian aura, there's now a proposal to extend out-door dining further into the street, and so increase the European cafe society feel.
Trees have been planted to give shade but also to enhance the atmosphere.
There's a new raised cycle lane, separating the track for cyclists from the road for cars.
The extra space and the wider pavements come because bus stops have been moved elsewhere. The space for the bus stops has now become the cycle lane so the road lanes for cars have not been cut back - just the bus stops.
At the formal unveiling, Minister for City Services Chris Steel said, "This is the most significant improvement work conducted on the Sydney and Melbourne building precinct for a long time and we hope all Canberrans will enjoy our revitalised city centre."
Businesses said they were pleased - though some said the disruption had hurt them and the work had come too late.
Aldo Cataldo who owns a hair-dressing salon on Northbourne Avenue said, "After 25 years, they've finally done the right thing in paying homage to these buildings."
But he added that it was now important that neighbouring land wasn't just sold off for development so car parking was lost.
Gary Rumble who owns Kingsize Big and Tall said, "Aesthetically, it's very good but the damage has been done by the construction."
He said the work on the improvements plus the tram construction had disrupted his business. "We need an advertising campaign. We need to let people know that we are back in business."
Joe Trimboli, one of the owners of the Mezzalira restaurant on London Circuit, said he welcomed the changes but wanted more parking for customers.
His brother, Pasquale, also said he was worried about car parking. He thought space for trams and taxis had expanded in the wider area at the expense of short-term carparking.
Of the improvements to the road, he said, "Overall, it's cleaned up the area. It's brought the Sydney building back into play."
But businesses survived on the supply of customers and goods, which needed parking, he said.