GPT tour reveals transformation of CBD site

The GPT Group has announced it will hold a series of free public tours at its Wollongong construction site, almost a year to the date after the company kicked off its $200-million redevelopment of the prime CBD block.

GPT marketing manager Ben Hughes said excavators had been working for 10 months to dig out thousands of tonnes of rock from the site, which will eventually house the new six-storey West Keira shopping centre complex.

The tours, which can accommodate a maximum of 10 people and are open to anyone over the age of 18, will be held once a day for a week starting on Friday.

Mr Hughes said those who were familiar with the site prior to the demolition of buildings, and those who had seen it at the start of excavation, would be amazed at the transformation.

"We've dug 16 metres down in the deepest part of the excavation, which is where we've laid our first slab of concrete only recently," he said.

"We really want to give people the opportunity to see where the work is up to and how the site is taking shape to accommodate the lower level of parking, and the three levels of shopping."

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The complex will also include two levels of rooftop parking.

Mr Hughes said 11 excavators were working on the site to chip away at the hard rock and load the fragments on to waiting trucks to be taken to holdings yards.

However, when dealing with what is believed to be among the toughest rock to break in Australia, Mr Hughes admitted not everything had gone quite to plan.

"We've broken about 20 drill bits so far," he said, referring to the machinery heads used to break up the rock surface.

Crews have completed about 80 per cent of the excavation work, but will take a two-week break over the Christmas and New Year period.

All the rock is expected to be removed by February.

Mr Hughes said the tours marked the first in a series.

"We have plans to offer further site tours in early 2013, including tours for students," he said.

For information or to book a place on a site tour, email wollon gong.central@gpt.com.au by tomorrow.

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