Crown Street Mall retailers cop it again

CBD retailers would face more pain in coming months as construction work on the final stage of Crown Street Mall ramped up, Wollongong City Council warned yesterday.

However, council infrastructure and works director Mike Hyde also said business owners could also expect "a lot of gain" by the start of November, when the revamped mall is set to open.

With refurbishment work on the $20 million project due to escalate in coming weeks, Mr Hyde laid out the council's construction plans for the next eight months.

He said Lahey Constructions contractors would begin installing hoarding from outside David Jones down to the Kembla Street end of the mall on February 3.

A busy schedule of demolition work would then begin, causing "angst" for already struggling retailers and business owners in the area, Mr Hyde said.

"That's going to be quite noisy unfortunately because underneath where the fountains were ... [there is] a lot of massed concrete that has to be dug out," he said.

"It's going to be painful, there will be people who won't like what they are being asked to undergo, but at the end of it our city will look a lot more beautiful.

"It will be a much more attractive place, and the same shop owners who are quite appropriately saying it's affecting their business now will have enhanced business opportunities."

Mr Hyde said the pavement along Church Street and where the amphitheatre used to be would hopefully be completed mid-year, while the rest was due to be finished in October.

Mr Hyde also defended the council's tree choice, saying the spotted gums would make the mall "unrecognisable" in the next three to five years.

While work is underway, Mr Hyde said the council would use signs to direct shoppers to shops and the Friday markets would likely be moved to the western end of the mall to allow them to keep operating.

Destination Wollongong would also run a program of events to keep the mall busy over the coming months.

Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said he understood the retailers' concerns, but urged patience and persistence during the "the homeward stretch" of the mall refurbishment.

"It will be a lot of hard work, and people can expect to see bigger changes than in 2013, but we believe the finished product will be worth the wait," he said.

CROWN STREET MALL PROGRESS 

 What’s been done?

■80-year-old Sydney Water main under western end of mall replaced

■Tree trenches and draining system installed

■Communications infrastructure installed in western end of mall

■Demolition of fountains, planter boxes, chessboard and grassy areas in eastern end of mall

■Underground stormwater tanks outside Church on the Mall installed.

■Trees planted and some furniture installed for summer retail period.

 What’s happening now?

■Fixing lifted pavers by January 24

■Night works on stormwater line on the southern side of Church Street started January 19

■Liaising with NBN Co for broadband roll-out

■Tender for lighting to be considered by councillors January 28

 What comes next?

■Hoarding goes back up outside David Jones down to Kembla Street by February 3

■Demolition of trees, planter boxes, seating and fountain foundations

■Construction and paving completed at lower end of mall

■Seats, other furniture and light poles to be installed

■Area near old amphitheatre/Church Street to be open mid-year

■Public art to be selected by curator/councillors

■Mall reopens  end of October

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