Chris Harris Jones
Work on the Mercato development at Byron’s South Plaza, adjacent to the current Woolworths, is expected to start ‘imminently’, according to Mark Harrison, who is managing director of property for the developer, Wingate.
The $70 million Mercato Centre will be the home for a redeveloped Woolworths, as well as a range of other shops including food outlets.
It is being jointly developed by a consortium that includes Wingate, which will own 75 per cent, while Azzura will own 25 per cent.
Mr Harrison said that the lengthy holdups that have seen the site fenced off for several months have been caused by two issues, as well as obtaining the final development consents from Byron Shire Council.
‘Essential Energy needs to move a high-voltage cable running under the site and we had a requirement to get permission from NSW rail authorities to place anchors in the rail corridor to stabilise the walls for the underground carpark while excavation is in progress,’ he said.
A Council spokesperson said that the development consent for the underground work had been granted, but the consent for the remainder of the work was still pending.
Mr Harrison said, ‘Before we can start work, we also need to have a traffic management plan in place.’
Construction work will be undertaken by Hutchinsons, one of QLD’s largest builders, and the initial development will involve digging out the basement over a period of five to eight weeks.
‘Trucks will access Jonson Street as early in the morning and as late at night as possible in order to avoid additional traffic congestion,’ Mr Harrison said. Mr Harrison indicated that it was possible that a new roundabout would be constructed on Jonson Street for the work, but that there would be no access to the site from Butler Street either in the short or long term.
‘Byron Council has other plans for that road’, he said.
At this stage there are no long-term plans for the existing Woolworths site or building, according to Mr Harrison, and those plans would depend on what expressions of interest were received.
The North Plaza shops are separately owned.
No fast food
Mr Harrison said that rumours the new development would contain fast-food outlets such as McDonald’s or Kentucky Fried Chicken were not true.
‘We want the development to be in keeping with Byron Bay and we are seeking tenants that are from the local area, which may include southern QLD’, he said.
The retail centre will have a Five Star green rating and 80 per cent of material from the demolition will be re-used.
It will include the expanded Palace Cinemas with nine screens.