Orange City Council candidate and president of Glenroi Community Group Melissa Hatton is leading a charge to redevelop Kurim shops.
On Thursday, council announced it would prepare a tender to knock the building down.
Mrs Hatton said she wanted to speak to PCYC, LiveBetter, Juvenile Justice, the Aboriginal Medical Service, as well as the building’s owner, Eid Eid to reconstruct the building to offer outreach services for youth, the elderly and young parents.
“We definitely need a hub of some sort with a shelter, lighting and open all hours,” Mrs Hatton said.
“There’s a perfect bit of land that’s about to become available again if the owner would like to see it happen. If it’s vacant there’s only bad things that will happen.”
Gerald Power called the building “a blight on the community”.
He said residents were frustrated and calling for change at council.
Mr Power said there was a similar situation in Blacktown, where council, ratepayers and stakeholders were able to turn a derelict building into a preschool and shops.
“This can happen here in Orange, but it needs brand new vision, new direction and new people to sit and negotiate with the owner,” Mr Power said.
He said council would need to move fast to secure extra funding for the project, “turning this area here around so the Glenroi community can look up with pride”.
Darryl Curran from the McRae-Bloomfield ticket said any development would need to look into what had and hadn’t worked in the community previously.
“There are kids aged five, six and seven who aren’t at school and we need to change that mindset,” Mr Curran said.
“The build it and they will come [mentality] doesn’t work here.”
Bernard Fitzsimon said for 20 years, council candidates had walked through Glenroi and promised revitalisation.
“It’s never happened,” Mr Fitzsimon said.
“We’re committed to making that happen.”
Mr Fitzsimon said it wasn’t good enough to simply demolish the building.
“There has to be something for the community, not just an empty block,” he said.
“We will ask the community what they want, not tell them what they need.”
Mr Fitzsimon said there needed to be enough pressure brought on the property’s owner to work with the community and council, without leaving ratepayers exposed to extra costs.
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Lead candidate for the Greens Stephen Nugent said while social housing could be an option for the Kurim shops, he said any solution had to be driven by the community.
“This is a chance to do something good and unique,” Mr Nugent said.
“It has to be a mix of community services and business, you need something to bring people to the centre, rather than just coming for services.”
Mr Nugent said research suggested when young and old people mixed it lead to a strengthening of respect in the community.
Candidate Ben Miller said saying it would take a long time to solve Glenroi’s problems like the Kurim shops, wasn’t a reason to avoid starting work.
“There has to be a start of the change otherwise it will continue to fester,” he said.
Mr Miller said any solution had to have diversity so if one business or service wasn’t thriving – the impact would be lessened.