THE potential sale of one of the most strategically important retail sites in Bendigo and the subsequent development of a multi-storey hotel and retail complex over the site is one of the most exciting opportunities for the Bendigo central business district in many years.

The one thing we can all be sure of is that if the City of Greater Bendigo, property owners and traders do nothing, then not a lot will change in an area that has been crying out for change for too long.

This is a tangible opportunity to create real and positive change in the heart of the city and to bring a whole new dynamic to a space and a precinct that needs some sort of stimulus and is cherry ripe for growth.

Development in our city’s central business district will inevitably lead to further opportunities being created, and this should be seen as something to excite and invigorate Bendigo, with a new Myer store the chance to open a new chapter in Bendigo’s most famous retailer’s long and proud history.

While council does not have a lot of influence over the development of essentially private space, other than its role in ensuring that the relevant planning and building codes are adhered to, there seems to be a layer of maturity and good intent about both Myer’s intentions and the city’s hopes and dreams that is welcome.

A high-quality accommodation complex to be established somewhere in the centre of town has been on the City of Greater Bendigo’s wish list and its swag of strategic plans for more than a decade.

The realisation of that long held dream seems closer than it has in a long time.

If an arrangement can be achieved for such a high profile and important site as that owned and occupied by Myer, council would no doubt be both pleased and proud.

Decommissioning the largely disused bus shelter near Mitchell Street and repurposing the facility as something more innovative, entrepreneurial and commercially oriented might also bring more confidence back into that end of the mall and create other opportunities.

For too long, Bendigo’s central areas have been maligned and dismissed, but a city of 110,000 or so people should be able to provide its residents and visitors the best possible retail experience available.

It needs to provide that service in an area where shoppers, office workers and families can appreciate what Bendigo has to offer.

We all recognise the mall can be a better place.

We should also recognise the ongoing work towards achieving that goal, and one of the best ways to do this is to support the local traders and businesses in the CBD and to look forward to the exciting changes that lie ahead.