Fences and barricades returned to Crown Street Mall yesterday, as Wollongong City Council prepared to start its final stage of works on the CBD strip.
The hoarding stretches from east of David Jones to Kembla Street, leaving a narrow walkway outside shops and businesses.
Lahey Constructions workers will soon begin digging out the foundations of the old fountains, which were removed last year.
The council has warned the jack-hammering required to remove the "massed concrete" will be noisy and cause angst for retailers.
Trees, seating and planter boxes near the former amphitheatre site will then be demolished, to make way for new paving, as well as new seats, lighting and other furniture.
Telstra will also begin work on telecommunications pits containing asbestos, which are located outside every second shop at the lower end of the mall.
The council's infrastructure and works director Mike Hyde said last month that the council hoped to complete the pavement along Church Street by the middle of the year, while the rest of the refurbishment work was due to be finished around October.