14/07/2011 - 00:00

Bunbury eyes a shopping mecca

14/07/2011 - 00:00

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Bunbury is hoping to cement itself as the retail hub for the South West by investing more than $150 million into the development of its shopping centres.

Bunbury eyes a shopping mecca

Bunbury is hoping to cement itself as the retail hub for the South West by investing more than $150 million into the development of its shopping centres.

The owners of Bunbury CBD’s main shopping complex, Bunbury Forum, are in talks with a national department store to anchor the second stage of its redevelopment.

City of Bunbury mayor David Smith said securing such a tenant would be a major attraction for both locals and tourists and would make Bunbury Forum the only shopping centre in the South West to have a national department store.

“Bunbury has traditionally been the retail centre for the whole of the South West and, if we are able to achieve a department store that would re-establish that role, we would see people from Harvey, Collie, Donnybrook and Greenbushes come to the centre for their bulky goods in particular,” Mr Smith said.

“Also, if we have one of the department stores the other normally follows and that’s just one more reason for people to come into Bunbury to do their shopping.”

The centre recently completed the $21 million first stage of its redevelopment, which saw the addition of 1,100 square metres of new retail space and the introduction of several national retailers, including The Body Shop, Dusk and Brown Sugar.

The last of the new retailers, a Dome coffee shop, recently opened its 160-seat cafe.

The $80 million second stage of the redevelopment will include more specialty stores, an extended three-level carpark and a department store, which will see the centre grow in excess of 35,000 square metres of retail floor space.

Centre manager Vern Merchant said the first stage of the centre’s expansion and refurbishment had been extremely successful and the second stage would establish Bunbury Forum as the major retail centre in the South West.

“Bunbury is well established as a regional hub and the proposed addition of a national department store and 65 new specialty retailers will be welcome news for the entire South West,” Mr Merchant said.

Bunbury Forum has been privately owned by Western Australian property developer Atlas Point for the past 22 years. It also owns the Stirling Centre shopping centre in the heart of Bunbury.

Atlas Point managing director Steve Cuzens said he hoped to finalise negotiations with the department store by the end of the year and expected construction to start in early 2012 and be completed by 2015.

Mr Cuzens said the redevelopment was vital from the perspective of both tourism and population growth.

“Bunbury is one of the fastest growing regions in Australia and there is a lot happening with mining in the area, the FIFO (fly in, fly out) work force and our sales at Bunbury Forum seem to be defying the general malaise in retail, so it speaks well of the region,” he said.

According to Mr Smith, 34,000 people live in the City of Bunbury, with another 34,000 living in the adjoining areas of Capel, Dardanup and Harvey.

“We are in the top four tourism towns in WA every year and have a persistent growth rate of 3 per cent each year for the past five years and rank with Mandurah and Hervey Bay in Queensland in terms of percentage growth,” Mr Smith said.

Mr Cuzens said that the extended seven days a week trading hours introduced by the centre two years ago had been well received by customers.

“We have had extended trading hours operating for two to three years and it has been positive for us offering those sorts of facilities seven days a week from a tourism perspective, because that is what people expect,” he said.

Mr Smith said the expansion of Bunbury Forum would also benefit the region from an employment and economic development perspective, creating more than 300 jobs during the construction stage and more than 450 permanent jobs once complete.

In addition, a $50 million shopping complex is being constructed in the suburb of Treendale in the Shire of Harvey.

The 20,000-square metre centre known as The Junction at Treendale is being constructed by Treendale owners of 40 years, the Coote family, who are developing the centre in conjunction with commercial real estate agents CB Richard Ellis.

Stage one of the development will consist of a Woolworths supermarket and 28 speciality stores. It is due to be completed by November.

Stage two will include a discount department store, more specialty retail shops, parking for more than 450 cars, office accommodation and bulky goods stores to maximise the development to 20,000 square metres.

 

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