Upgrades looking up
The upgrade of Crown Street Mall has not been without its criticisms, but in a recent update, the GPT development group and Wollongong City Council have outlined the project’s progress and benefits.
According to information provided by Council, the project has been delayed by bad weather and other complications, but it set to open its doors to shoppers in October 2014.
Residents and business owners have criticised the expansion for its noise pollution, unsightly construction area and failure to meet its proposed completion date of early this year.
Despite the revised plan, 80 per cent of The Illawarra Mercury readers voted the mall upgrade would not be finished by its designated date.
Infrastructure and Works Director Mike Hyde told The Illawarra Mercury, “In most other projects, we’d just say we’ll extend the time of the project and go over time, but here we really want to achieve the October completion date – and that is to avoid going into another season that would impact the businesses.”
Despite the negative impact construction work has had on the popularity of the mall and the relative decline of local businesses, GPT said it aims to improve the CBD retail experience.
To crunch the numbers, GPT documents indicate the $200 million upgrade will include 80 new stores. Its completion is expected to generate 800 retail jobs for local residents, and increase the number of parking spaces to a total of 2,000.
In their recent update, GPT outlined how the expansion will offer much needed food options through a new fresh food precinct, an extended hours eating area, and a fast food terrace.
The development will also be water and energy efficient, and utilise eco-friendly initiatives such as recycling, reduced electricity consumption and sustainable transport options.
The upgrade has been a major project in the Illawarra for over two years, and as of March 2014, over 500,000 man hours have been put into its construction.
The original Mall is also getting a refurbishment with the help of a $5 million government grant.
Work has commenced on the amphitheatre and terrace steps on Church Street which will have a hearing loop, LED lighting and new pavers added.
At its completion, shoppers will be able to enjoy the shade from over fifty new native trees.
Other improvements include a new CCTV system, extra seating and paving works to the front of shops.
Multimedia Reporter: Kirstie Choplicki
Information before Infringement
In the lead up to World No Tobacco Day at the end of the month, Wollongong City Council are providing information, not fines, to smokers who break the smoking ban around Crown Street Mall. While this may seem a bit lenient, Cancer Council Community Programs Coordinator Tina Hunt explains to UOWTV why it might actually be a good idea.
Multimedia Reporter: Alice Matthews
Crown Street Mall’s Arts and Buskers
The Wollongong City Council and the Crown Street Mall support the expression of artists during its evolution or otherwise known as renovations. However buskers have received the news that their fees that they have to pay to be able to busk has doubled.
Featured in this gallery is the work of arts present throughout the mall and the construction work as well as Charles, 20, a Crown Street Mall busker.
Multimedia Reporter: Rachel Loveday