Ultima approval lifts confidence
By ED SOUTHORN
BAY Street cafe operator Terry O'Connor is hopeful the $44 million Tweed Ultima residential and retail complex will save his business.
Terry opened his cafe, famous for its eggs benedict, three years ago opposite the prime development site at the corner of Bay and Wharf Streets and bounded by Stuart Street.
Since then, he has endured the rise and fall of the ill-fated Latitude 28 tower project, which failed to win NSW Government planning approval, followed by what seemed like endless talk about Tweed Ultima.
Terry grew sceptical about anything getting off the ground opposite his business, which has struggled to remain viable.
He was preparing to have to close the cafe - until Monday's announcement that Tweed Ultima had secured NSW Government approval, with construction to start next month and first-stage completion by March 2006.
"We're down on trade, and unless it goes ahead we'll be out of business," Terry said.
"Now we'll try to hang on until next March. The only time we do any good trade is during the tourist season, which for us is confined to Christmas and the New Year, but that's all."
Terry closes his cafe at 3pm (NSW) every day, due to slow turnover. If he was forced to shut down, he'd lose a lot of money invested in his business.
But he reckons Tweed Ultima will bring Bay Street, in decline for more than a decade after major banks relocated, into the 21st century.
He calls the NSW-Qld border marker at the Griffith Street/Wharf Street roundabout the Brandenburg Gate.
"On one side it's 2005, but on our side it's more like 1956," he said.
"This (Tweed Ultima) will bring more people to the area."
Bay Street Realty principal Gordon Beck said there were at least four empty shops in the street and at least one of those had been vacant for almost four years.
Gordon said the strong economy and the local real estate boom had helped keep many businesses afloat.
But he said at least one business in Bay Street had recently closed down.
He said Tweed Ultima would certainly help rejuvenate Bay Street, although he would prefer if the Wharf Street frontage of the giant project was part of the first con- struction stage.