09/11/2016 - 14:04

Historic centre a renewed retail hub at City Beach

09/11/2016 - 14:04


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A community-first focus is paying dividends for shopping centre owner GPA, with its Empire Village Shopping Centre becoming a new focal point in City Beach. 

Empire Village has been repositioned from a typical neighbourhood shopping centre to become a food and beverage hub. Photo: Attila Csaszar

A community-first focus is paying dividends for shopping centre owner GPA, with its Empire Village Shopping Centre becoming a new focal point in City Beach.

GPA has spent $10 million redeveloping the centre, drawing on its history of being the mess hall for athletes competing at the 1962 Empire Games.

Director George Atzemis said GPA’s aim was to provide significant amenity through a high-quality tenant mix.

To that end, GPA has provided six restaurants or cafes, hand-picked by retail specialist Lease Equity, as well as a 24-hour supermarket operated by James Kelly, whose Taylor Road IGA in Nedlands was named the best IGA in Australia earlier this year.

“I’m not a developer that wants to just be a landlord and get the rents in; I’ve probably softened over the years and I’m more interested in the facility as a community thing,” Mr Atzemis told Business News.

“As the years have gone by and you get a more mature outlook on these things, you can see what we’ve contributed to the streetscape and the lifestyle of the community.

“And the common buzz around the area is everyone believes the value of their property has gone up.”

Mr Atzemis said the Empire Village centre, which was formerly known as the Boulevard Shopping Centre City Beach and was extensively damaged by fire in 2014, was now thriving, particularly on weekend evenings.

The historic site was used as the mess hall for athletes at the 1962 Empire Games. Photo: GPA

GPA director Peter Atzemis said instead of dwelling on the fire as a negative, he and his father set about turning it into an opportunity.

“We travelled very shortly after the centre burned down and went over to the states,” he said.

“I saw some really interesting food-based marketplaces and got really excited and thought ‘this is something we could really explore in our venue now’.”

George Atzemis said GPA had planned to redevelop the centre prior to the fire, with the project first discussed more than 10 years ago.

“We’ve been ready to go for 10 years, there was a bit of a hold up in the council structure, not with the full council but with a group of councillors who didn’t want the place to change,” he said.

“It’s interesting how they are there now every day enjoying the facilities.”

Peter Atzemis said operators at Empire Village, most of which had been retained from the old centre, had reported their busiest-ever trading periods since it opened.

He said GPA’s strategy to draw on the centre’s history through public art had given it a leg-up against its competitors.

“The ability to have a story and the way we’ve set the public art up, as a timeline of the Empire Games, people comment on it constantly,” Peter Atzemis said.

“The older people in the area remember certain things about the space, so there is definitely a real nice historic story that we’ve been able to tell with our interpretive art.”


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