'5 franchises' negotiate with Stockland as council approve
THE long awaited expansion of the Stockland Shopping Centre can finally go ahead after Gladstone Regional Council signed off on the massive $150 million development.
Although plans for the expansion have been afoot since 2012, the approval of the operational works application means Stockland can actually turn dirt on site, potentially bringing 600 odd construction jobs to the region.
"This final decision means there is no more intervention from council," Mayor Matt Burnett said.
"We can't do any more than what we've done."
But it might still be too early to start popping any champagne corks, because Stockland is holding back from confirming a start date.
A spokesman for Stockland did not wish to comment on why the expansion had been delayed and did not provide any details on how many retailers have come on board to fill the extra 30,000 square metres Stockland plans to add to the existing site.
However Cr Burnett said he knew of at least five franchises that have negotiated and secured tenancy agreements at the new site which is good news.
Cr Burnett could not give precise details on what new shops would be coming to town, he did say the five signed up franchises were major retailers you'd expect to see at shopping centres across the country.
Personally, Cr Burnett said he would love to see JB Hi-Fi set up shop.
"We expected them (Stockland) to have started [construction] by now but my understanding is that they're still full steam ahead with the project," Cr Burnett said.
"The economic benefits for Gladstone are huge [and] it's the sort of shopping experience that attracts people to want to stay and live here."
The new site is expected to be designed like a racecourse, will include spaces for more than 100 specialty shops and create 400 new long-term jobs.
A statement issued by Stockland Group Executive and Commercial Property CEO John Schroder said he was aware the community wanted to see Stockland start construction as soon as possible.
But Cr Burnett said all planning approvals had time limits and if Stockland did not start soon enough they could potentially lose the approval. "They need to start building," he said.