City opens its heart to river in bold $150m CBD plan
THE city has been waiting for the news for years and now it has finally come.
After battling to stay alive for more than a decade the CBD is to get a new heart.
A three-level centre with a nine-storey council building will be developed on the western side of the Ipswich Mall under initial plans for the mall redevelopment.
The existing Woolworths building will be demolished to open the mall to the Bremer River. Woolworths would be relocated behind the Murphy's Town Pub.
The plans for redevelopment of the Ipswich City Square, owned by council's Ipswich City Properties, surfaced as council voted in favour of moving the council administration building and library to the mall.
Council said projected operational savings, coupled with a long-term lease and buy back option, were instrumental to their support for the redevelopment.
Mayor Paul Pisasale said the relocation plans would be a catalyst for the most significant CBD overhaul in the city's history.
A formal agreement on the $150 million project, known as Retail Stage One, is expected to be finalised with a development partner by December and the estimated timeframe for construction is 18 months.
Under early concept plans, everything from the rotunda to Bremer Street would be demolished to make way for an expansive indoor and outdoor terrace, featuring a dining and cafe precinct overlooking the River Heart Parklands.
Retail Stage One includes:
- A 15,000sq m civic building for council administration and library,
- A 4200sq m supermarket,
- 15 retail tenancies and 10 specialty market-style stores; and public gardens.
Cr Pisasale said Retail Stage One was a "game-changer".
"It finally opens up our CBD and mall to the Bremer River and River Heart Parklands," Cr Pisasale said.
"We are now entering the most critical phase in the 10-15 year redevelopment of Ipswich city centre, which began in 2009."
He said the relocation plans would reactivate the mall as one of the city's biggest workforces and library visitors moved into Retail Stage One.
"Council's city library attracts almost 7000 people a week. By moving it to a new site in Retail Stage One with council's administrative staff of 650 people, it will bring a much-needed boost in pedestrian movement and activity to the city centre," he said.
Ipswich City Properties chairman Paul Tully said Retail Stage One would be an 18-month construction with completion at the end of 2017.
"Importantly, the development will complete a missing link with the Bradfield pedestrian bridge and avoid the need to access it via the temporary arrangement through the undercover car park," Cr Tully said.
Cr Tully said the sale of Icon Tower A to Cromwell for $93 million demonstrated the success of Ipswich City Properties.