Keira Street to be closed for three months

A key thoroughfare in Wollongong's CBD will be closed for three months under plans to speed up works associated with the GPT Group's $200 million Wollongong Central expansion.

The shopping centre developer announced on Tuesday that it hopes to shut off traffic on Keira Street between the Crown and Market street intersections from July until September.

GPT's development manager Steven Turner said this would allow the construction of footpaths, roads and outdoor dining areas ahead of the opening of the new mall.

The new streetscape and outdoor dining precinct, which will have 10 new eateries and bars, is a centrepiece of the expansion, with GPT hoping to draw early morning and late night crowds as well as the usual nine-to-five shoppers.

Without the closure, Mr Turner warned construction along Keira Street could continue until early next year.

The new bridge that is part of the mall development. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

The new bridge that is part of the mall development. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

"This will allow us to open all this in one bang," Mr Turner said.

"If we don't close the road, we would be launching the centre without the Keira Street works and public spaces."

The proposal still needs to be signed off by Wollongong City Council and Roads and Maritime Services, and will be debated by councillors at the end of the month.

However, Mr Turner said he was confident it would go ahead as planned.

Mr Turner was due to meet Keira Street business owners on Tuesday night to hear their concerns and feedback about the proposed closure.

He said GPT staff were already working on ideas to ensure pedestrians would continue to frequent restaurants and shops along the block.

He said he had discussed staging bands or other night-time and weekend activities in the delivery docks during the three-month closure.

"My brief to the team was: if this is what we have to do, I want it to be five times busier there than it is today," he said.

The street works are being funded by GPT and Wollongong City Council through a formal agreement.

THE IMPACT

Keira Street road closure: planned detours

BUSES: Buses are likely to be diverted along Smith and Kembla streets until they meet up with the usual Burelli Street route, with GPT to fund a shuttle and temporary bus shelters to ensure safe access into the city centre.

CARS: Drivers would be directed to bypass the CBD using Throsby Drive and Denison Street, and still be able to travel on roads surrounding the closed block.

PEDESTRIANS: Foot traffic would be diverted from the entrance to Crown Street Mall onto a path on the road, and then alongside the eastern side of Keira Street, allowing access to businesses such as Mylan, the Living Room and Bar Pellegrini along that strip.

Note: these plans still need to be finalised before they are considered at the council meeting later this month.

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