MYER’S iconic Pall Mall store could be sold off as part of a multi-million dollar redevelopment of the Bendigo CBD that includes a four and a half star hotel and dedicated retail space of which Myer would become a key tenant.
Senior Myer executives are due to visit the city later this month for talks with the City of Greater Bendigo, with the potential sale of the retailer’s historic Pall Mall premises high on the agenda.
Council’s CBD place manager Phil DeAraugo yesterday said it was important to note that a move towards selling the site did not equate to Myer pulling out of Bendigo, only that the company was not in the business of owning the land on which its stores operate.
It’s understood Myer owns less than a handful of sites across its nation-wide chain of stores, founded in Bendigo by Sidney Myer almost 120 years ago.
“This is the real opportunity to get them (Myer) into a decent quality building,” Mr DeAraugo said.
The Weekly last month revealed discussions were under way regarding the potential development of a multi-storey hotel complex as part of a redevelopment of the prized Pall Mall site currently owned and occupied by Myer.
Mr DeAraugo also said investigations where underway into how the often overlooked Mitchell Lane that leads off Mitchell Street could be better utilised, including its potential to be accessed via Allans Walk, Victoria Lane and even through to the Myer store.
City of Greater Bendigo mayor Margaret O’Rourke said Myer was keen to work with council and the opportunities that exist in Bendigo, and that conversations about the retailer’s presence in Bendigo had always been positive.
She said redevelopment of the Myer site would provide a massive boost, and help bring greater vibrancy back into the CBD, adding that any proposal would involve more than just retail opportunities for Bendigo.
“I just think this would re-invigorate the city,” she said.
One of the Hargreaves Mall’s most maligned features is also in line for an overhaul as part of council plans to further enhance the heart of the city.
Council has called for expressions of interest to transform the bus shelter that was installed at the Mitchell Street end of the mall in 2016 at a cost of approximately $330,000.
It wants the space to be more of a commercial pop-up opportunity.
Traders, business leaders and shoppers have long been critical of the decision to locate the bus shelter in the mall, and the structure has been the subject of repeated vandalism attacks, including one earlier this year that saw every Perspex panel in the structure destroyed.
It’s understood the bus shelter will not be reinstated elsewhere, and that conversion of the Hargreaves Mall space also signals an acceptance that the facility has not been utilised by the overwhelming majority of bus patrons.
Documents released by the council have called for expressions of interest from anyone keen to be part of a plan to increase the activation of Hargreaves Mall and to complement rather than compete with existing businesses by utilising the bus shelter space.
The EOI documents cite the approximately 135 square metres of prime public space will be curated to take advantage of the different seasons, and opportunities to utilise the space will be short term.
Projects must promote innovation, have a creative element and be sourced or made locally.
Traders and business leaders say the bus shelter has also been a magnet for anti-social behaviour that had impacted more broadly upon the mall and upon trade in the immediate vicinity.
A recent City of Greater Bendigo “Transforming the City Centre” project update newsletter described the repurposing of the bus shelter as a high priority, “given that it is not performing the function that it was intended to and that it has sustained significant damage in recent months”.
Bus shelter commercial pop-up opportunity expressions of interest close on Monday, August 13.
Other enhancements to the Hargreaves Mall underway include the planned introduction of book boxes near the children’s playground, a pop-up park, more lighting and the installation of a new catenary rope system for the central system of the mall to allow artwork and decorations to be suspended above the mall.
Council is also investigating how the toilets situated in the mall could also be located elsewhere and the present sites re-purposed, and is lobbying for an increased Protective Services Officers presence in the heart of the city.
– Peter Kennedy