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Underground arcade plans scuttled

PLANS for an underground arcade linking St Martin’s Arcade and the David Jones food hall have been shelved after the City of Perth and landowner St Martin’s Centre both withdrew support for the concept.

At last week’s council meeting a proposal for stage two of the St Martin’s Arcade redevelopment, which included plans for the underground arcade, was tabled.

An alternative motion, moved by Councillor Tess Stroud, withdrew approval for the underground arcade, which would have linked St Georges Terrace to the retailer’s 1500sqm basement foodhall.

Cr Stroud said such an arcade would take pedestrians out of the Hay and Murray street malls and would further hurt city retailers, already suffering at the hands of major suburban shopping centres.

“Pedestrians are our lifeblood and we must consider what will happen to the other arcades, which are struggling now,” she said.

“People coming from the train station could simply come across the overpass, into David Jones and through the arcade to St Georges Terrace, and completely miss both the Murray and Hay street malls.

“It would further thin the pedestrians in the malls by sending them underground.”

Cr Stroud said she had spoken with the landowners and they had no objections to dropping the concept.

A spokesperson for St Martin’s Centre declined to comment.

David Jones WA general manager John Samartzis said the concept was a matter for the City of Perth and St Martin’s Centre, but the company would be disappointed if the arcade didn’t go ahead.

“We would be somewhat dis-appointed because we feel that anything that leads to a circulation of pedestrians around the city could only be positive,” Mr Samartzis said.

David Jones property general manager John Bolas said that, while the company had supported the arcade proposal, it would not greatly affect store operations.

“The food hall was designed without the arcade link in mind, so while it will make some difference, it won’t make a lot of difference,” he said.

“However, if it did happen it would be of great benefit to the entire city.”

The move by the city council should come as little surprise. When plans for the arcade surfaced Perth Lord Mayor Dr Peter Nattrass said he would be reluctant to support any proposal that took pedestrians off city streets.

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