GPT hints at free parks at new Wollongong mall

User pays: Paying for parking "is a put-off", says Deputy Lord Mayor Chris Connor. Picture: MELANIE RUSSELL

User pays: Paying for parking "is a put-off", says Deputy Lord Mayor Chris Connor. Picture: MELANIE RUSSELL

GPT has advised Wollongong shoppers to "watch this space", after councillors at Monday night's meeting urged the shopping centre developer to include free parking in its new $200 million mall.

Development manager Steven Turner stopped short of saying there would be free car spaces at the six-storey complex, but he said GPT was working to address people's concerns about parking in Wollongong.

GPT has previously said there would be three levels of parking in its new Wollongong Central building, including 650 new spaces with a state-of-the-art signage system to direct shoppers to available spaces.

Parking will be free on Sundays and after 6pm every day except Thursday, and GPT's existing parking stations in Kenny and Market streets will also be upgraded.

"When we speak to people, they don't mind the concept of paying for a park as long as they can find a quality park in the right spot," Mr Turner said.

"We're putting in a dynamic parking system across all three of our car parks which will tell you how many spaces there are available."

Mr Turner said the company would announce further details of its parking strategy, which he hoped would encourage shoppers to take advantage of its new fresh food hub, in the coming weeks.

Deputy Lord Mayor Chris Connor raised the parking issue, saying Wollongong needed an edge to attract shoppers over other Illawarra retail hubs.

He said residents in Wollongong's southernmost ward, which he represents, had the option to shop in Shellharbour instead of driving to the city centre.

"There are over 42,000 voters in Ward 3 and they have the opportunity to turn their cars south instead of north to do their shopping," Cr Connor said.

"We are going to have that world-class new centre, but I see and talk to lots of people for whom that extra money for parking is a put-off for coming into the centre of our city."

His comments were made in a debate over the temporary closure of Keira Street between Crown and Market streets, which will allow GPT to expedite construction of footpaths and shopfronts associated with the new mall.

The three-month shut-down, from July to September, was approved by all councillors.

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