MORE than a year after the Myer store closed, Orange City Centre has been given the all-clear for its latest plans to redevelop the site.
It originally had plans approved in 2016, but further assessment of the former Dalton Brothers building revealed structural issues and negotiations have been underway between centre owners Alceon Group and Orange City Council since July last year on revised plans to demolish all but the facades.
Orange Business Chamber president Ash Brown welcomed councillors’ decision on Tuesday night to approve the plans.
“We know the closure of Myer put a dampener on the CBD for retailers, there’s no doubt about it, but there’s also a lot of talented business owners who have adjusted to the conditions,” he said.
Mr Brown was also buoyed by the low youth unemployment figures released earlier in the week, however he said the council needed to build on the development approval with a facelift for the CBD.
[The CBD facelift] definitely needs to be put back at the top of the agenda.Ash Brown
“I don’t think that would happen [in time for the centre re-opening], but even if it was just after, that would be fantastic,” he said.
“It definitely needs to be put back at the top of the agenda.”
The state government recently awarded a grant to replace under-awning lighting in the CBD.
The approved application will require Alceon to preserve a number of interior features from the existing building, including the pulleys formerly used to lift stock between floors, the spiral staircase in the basement, columns, pressed metal and tiles, with a full restoration of the facade.
Councillor Russell Turner criticised Public Works Advisory (PWA), which council staff asked to act as engineering experts, for their advice to keep more of the original building and stage construction to open the rear part of the building first and the front second.
“I can’t just imagine tenants jumping at the chance to lease a shop leading to nowhere because the [next] stage hasn’t been started, not knowing when the pedestrian mall would be opened into Summer Street,” he said.
“It’s an indication that PWA have no experience in retail shopping.”
An Orange City Centre spokeswoman said it was pleasing to have approval.
“We are looking forward to progressing with the project and working with council,” she said.
A date for construction is yet to be set.