Wollongong Central shopping centre will be brought into the 21st century via a $30 million refurbishment.Centre owner, The GPT Group, confirmed the upgrade will include new ceilings, toilets, furniture, lights, air conditioning, modern tiled floors and clear glass balustrades.The transformation will also result in a new mix of shops after a push towards more fashion and service stores at the expense of a large food court.The Crown St Mall entry to the centre near Sanity will be filled in and the entrance moved further west to underneath the overhead walkway, where Just Jeans is, subject to approval by Wollongong City Council.GPT development manger Steven Turner said the interior work would begin immediately and was planned for completion by the end of October, before the Christmas rush.The upgrade will be at the northern Wollongong Central building, once known as Crown Central, but there are no renovation plans for the former Crown Gateway, also owned by GPT."We want to bring a different look and feel to the centre," Mr Turner said."We'll be modernising, bringing a lot more natural materials in."At the moment it's fairly stark ... but will have soft, natural finishes."Mr Turner said there would be more fashion and services, and less fresh food in the new centre. The Mercury understands some tenants in the food court will not return."We will be adding some new fast food retailers," Mr Turner said.Many stores in the northern building will have to close for a period to be refitted. Tenants have been on month-to-month lease arrangements in anticipation of the work and some of the stores will change location.Due to the upgrade, many stores have sales running at the moment as they attempt to reduce their stock.A Mercury poll of tenants on Friday found many face an increase in rent when they return and will be hit by the costs of storage and rebuilding their shops to specification.Shop owners have struggled to make ends meet over recent months and the renovations will be a challenge."It's good they are doing up the centre, but a little bit more communication and warning would have been nice," one said.Mr Turner said GPT had informed retailers by letter and briefings.In September, GPT put on ice its $311 million plans for an overhaul of Wollongong Central and construction of an adjoining shopping complex with parking, supermarkets and cinema on Keira St.The present improvements fit in with that plan, but there has been no change on the decision to shelve it for at least two years."The works are consistent with the direction we are going," Mr Turner said."We remain committed to the market, to Wollongong and until the economic climate improves we are doing everything we can ... so when the economy improves the opportunity is there."The refurbishment will give work to about 300 builders.