The former Warrawong Bunnings is to be divided up and turned into smaller retail premises, under a plan with Wollongong council.
This quashes any hopes many residents might have had of seeing a Costco or IKEA move to Wollongong; these ideas were top of people's wish lists when the hardware giant relocated to Kembla Grange last year.
In a proposal similar to the one used at Shellharbour when Bunnings moved to Albion Park, the massive warehouse will be turned into five smaller retail tenancies.
The plans on exhibition say there are no details of which retailers will move into the space, which is close to the already crowded retail market of Warrawong Plaza and King Street.
The development application, lodged by Griffith Group, also proposes to demolish other existing retail structures on the large commercial site bounded by King and Cowper Streets and Northcliffe Drive.
The existing McDonald's and Liquorland are proposed to stay, and three new food and drink retailers will be installed.
The developers say their plan will allow the underused site to achieve a viable economic return and ensure minimal impact to residents.
The site is identified by the council as an "opportunity site" under the Warrawong Town Centre Master Plan, which has the potential to be a catalyst for redevelopment.
Developers say their proposal will help to achieve this vision, by providing extra retail in the commercial centre of Warrawong, as well as pedestrian links between the various shops and eateries.
"Overall, the proposal is considerate to the intentions of the Warrawong Town Centre Master Plan and will reinforce the status of the site as a key component of the town centre by providing local retail and commercial services for the local and wider community, ultimately delivering economic and social benefits to the Warrawong Town Centre," the plans on exhibition say.
They estimate the new shops would employ roughly 60 people, while each food and drink outlet would employ between 6-10 staff.
The shops would operate between 7am and 9pm, and the eateries would be 24 hours, the plans say.
While the plan provides an easy reuse of the old Bunnings warehouse, adding more retail to Warrawong is potentially at odds with Wollongong council's overarching strategies for its major towns and, particularly, the Wollongong CBD.
For example, in August, Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said he would like to see less retail in the area, given the challenges facing existing retail businesses.
"In the light of what's going on out there, that whole area needs to be given a rethink. The city already has too much retail now," he said.
"That's half the problem, with this area and other areas like the mall. The market is shrinking, the impact of online retail is biting into that space - so it's not that we need more retail.
"When it comes to this particular space, somebody with deep pockets and an appropriate imagination and drive could put all sorts of things there."
He said it was "quite feasible" that a developer could choose to lodge a rezoning proposal development to change the site so that houses or some other type of residential development could be built.
The council is working on a city-wide study of its retail land uses, which is expected to be published this year.