Maude Street debate rears again
By Nadia Surace
A group of Maude Street Mall traders have renewed their calls to open the precinct to slow-moving traffic, citing the recent redevelopment of Townsville’s Flinders Street Mall. A mall that was similar in size to Maude Street Mall.
At a cost of $57 million, the project is said to have returned confidence and pride to the city’s CBD, so says the city’s Mayor, Les Tyrell.
“This is the single biggest milestone in the revitalisation of the CBD. It sends a very strong message to potential investors that Townsville is a confident city with enormous potential,” Cr Tyrell said.
“Where people were put off by the declining state of the old mall, there is already a newfound enthusiasm and optimism about Flinders Street and the future of the CBD.
“People are delighted with the new look of the street, the cafes, the alfresco atmosphere and Flinders Square and already new shops are opening.”
But City of Greater Shepparton Mayor, Geoff Dobson says Shepparton is a different city to Townsville, and after visiting Coff’s Harbour to assess its mall redevelopment in May, maintains that there is not enough evidence to suggest that opening Shepparton’s mall would improve business activity in the area.
“We have no plans to open it,” Cr Dobson says.
“But I’m more than happy to talk to these traders about the issue at any time.”
The traders who don’t want to be named disagree. They give evidence of other regional centres in Australia where malls have been successfully re-developed, malls including the former Coff’s Harbour High Street Mall.
They note one Coffs Harbour City Council report which states: ‘Since the opening of High Street, various traders have reported increases between 50 and 100 per cent on trading figures… There has been an increase in the value of properties (up to 30 per cent) with a marked increase in development activities. Up to $7.5 million worth of property have been sold and purchased with up to 18 shops being leased during and since the construction period’.
“Council do not give us evidence to support not opening the mall,” one of the traders said.
“We first approached Council in 1996 with an appeal to re-open the mall. Two years later we submitted a unanimous petition from 99 per cent of all of the mall land owners and business owners that was ignored.
“We want them to listen to what the evidence shows, that opening the mall would revive our city and act on it.
“The mall is going under, there are empty shops everywhere.
“I doubt that at the moment the majority of traders in the mall would be trading with profitability.
“This mall has gradually destroyed the soul of this city.”
The traders also refute suggestions that parking issues and developments including Riverside Plaza and Shepparton Marketplace shopping centres have contributed to issues in the CBD.
“Every other city that has satellite shopping centres maintain productive business centres,” said one of the traders.