ORANGE City Council has failed to attract a single taker interested in redeveloping the Anson Street car park, in the nine months since concept plans for a $35 million eight-storey shopping centre, office and apartment complex for the site were unveiled.
The controversial proposal raised the ire of surrounding business owners, up in arms over access to the site, and heritage advocates concerned about moves to demolish the Cultural Centre.
But council corporate and commercial services director Kathy Woolley does not believe the site’s access, heritage and pedestrian safety challenges were what drove developers away.
Instead she puts the lack of interest down to the flat retail market.
“I’m not disappointed, I expected we’d have a low level of responses,” she said.
“I don’t think we should compromise on this site. We’ve set the bar and it’s high. We want a development that’s at the upper end.”
Finance policy chair, councillor Chris Gryllis agreed.
“Anywhere in Australia there are challenges, even if you start developing a brand new block of land,” he said.
The council spent $60,000 on the concept designs, heritage assessment, traffic management study, financial feasibility and geotechnical survey, but Ms Woolley said the work was not in vain as the proposal would be readvertised, and the extensive groundwork meant the first step for developers had been done.
“The principal issue with what we do in that space is access,” she said.
“It’s got to be better than what there is now, which isn’t great.”
The key justification for the development was the 620-space car park the complex would have delivered for the CBD.
While the lack of interest could set the car park’s redevelopment back years, Ms Woolley said the retail space the centre would have created was the main reason so many spaces had been identified as necessary.
“One of the real benefits was the undercover parking,” she said.
“[But] it’s $30,000 per car park when you do any sort of decked or undercover parking. Without a revenue stream that’s an awful lot of money.”
Cr Gryllis said the city was well served for retail space and parking, with the Summer Centre nearing completion.
“If you have a look at the last 10 years council has increased car parking substantially,” he said.
“Perhaps a multistorey car park could be built in the future and if you can have it with some other kind of development it will be good.”
If the eight-storey complex had come to fruition it would have been one of the tallest buildings in Orange with an 8400 square metre ground-level shopping centre, 80 accommodation or office units over four levels and a three-level car park increasing the spaces available from 300 to 620.