Wait almost over for shop complex

KEEP your fingers crossed, because if everything goes to plan, work on a new Southside shopping complex will start next month.

Developing company AHC Limited chairman Ian MacLeod said it had been a hard road and tough going but AHC was nearly there in terms of being ready to break soil on the project.

The company’s last hurdles stem from securing finance but Mr MacLeod doesn’t anticipate any issues; the last tenancy required is to be signed this week and a request to reduce parking spaces by 49 is before Gympie Regional Council.

Council’s Planning and Development chairman Councillor Ian Petersen said the proposal saw some changes and council staff were recalculating the number of car parks required as quickly as possible.

Cr Petersen said council was anxious to get the issue sorted and was doing its best to facilitate it.

Ian MacLeod stressed to residents yesterday AHC Limited hadn’t stalled on the Southside shopping centre project, but was going through a difficult approval process.

He said there were issues with storm water and access that had now been sorted and the delays experienced were not abnormal for this type of project.

Problems over access to the site and the upgrading of a nearby intersection was resolved with AHC deciding not to build a petrol station as a part of stage two of the project.

But Mr MacLeod was very happy to now be at the tail end of a two-year process to get the ball moving on the new centre.

“Financing has been very tough with the banks at the moment,” he said.

“We are fortunate the banks are supporting us...in these tough times.”

The tough financial climate has meant more conditions for the developers to meet before money could be lent for the multi-million-dollar project.

Mr MacLeod said his lenders had requested a review of the centre’s parking spaces saying 390 parks, which was agreed upon by council, was too many for the size of the project and only 341 were needed under town planning regulations.

With council recalculating the number of spaces needed and keen to help get the project underway, Mr MacLeod is hopeful construction will start in early August. The shopping complex will take about one year to complete, with a majority of build time spent on the underground car park and Woolworths store.

Woolworths are “champing at the bit” waiting for the project to get underway, Mr MacLeod said.

That support has spurred the company on to get construction underway as soon as possible on the complex, which has also signed a pharmacy and news agent.

Gympie Times

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