One of Queanbeyan’s most prominent business owners has warned current CBD redevelopment plans will not stop the city becoming a ghost town.
Other business owners have raised concerns over the plans taking particular aim at logistical difficulties such as managing parking during construction.
While arguments over the legitimacy of the current plan exist, longtime business owner and former Queanbeyan City councillor Steve Stavreas said the development may be “too little too late”.
“Council is the largest property owner in the CBD, so they have the ability to create change,” Mr Stavreas said.
“The current proposal has merit but the issue is the duration of implementation is not going to save the CBD from becoming a ghost town.”
Mr Stavreas said he did not want to sound overly negative but he sensed a “lack of hope” amongst the business community.
While he applauded the council for taking steps to try and boost the CBD, Mr Stavreas said there were more appropriate and cost-effective measures that could be implemented such as approaching RMS to address traffic issues on Monaro Street.
“It’s the speed of traffic and the danger of fast traffic that takes away pedestrians,” Mr Stavreas said.
“If we could replicate the Goulburn main street we would have a successful CBD.”
Queanbeyan-Palerang council is executing plans to build a six storey, $57 million headquarters in the Lowe Street carpark.
A broader redevelopment of the CBD is expected to follow on from this after an unsolicited proposal was accepted from the Downtown Q consortium. It would see a number of council properties sold to construct commercial and mixed-use buildings.
The development could see the council compulsorily acquire 46-48 Lowe Street, where the BP Service Station currently stands, and commence a series of road closures in the CBD to facilitate construction.
Walsh’s Hotel are positioned to be the business most inconvenienced by construction with limited parking and access, particularly with the bottle shop operating on the Lowe Street carpark side.
Walsh’s manager Trent Miller said the business was negotiating with the council to have provisions implemented to limit impacts on the business and added both sides were working positively to reach a mutually beneficial outcome.
However he said he was concerned with how the impacts on parking would affect the business and questioned whether his customers would respond well to the majority underground parking due to be installed.
Peter Stumbles, principal at Elders Real Estate, echoed many of Mr Miller’s concerns regarding parking and added he could foresee negative impacts for his own business opportunities.
“If my children ever want to develop this site in years to come I think there will be serious problems because access is restricted,” Mr Stumbles said.
“I have no problem with putting all the staff spread across the several buildings into one building, that makes good commercial sense.
“But I don’t think that is the right place.”
Mr Stumbles also said there was a moral issue at stake with his perception the council is “profiteering” from the land in the Lowe Street carpark.
It is understood previous landowners surrounding the carpark had deeded the land to the council for the nominal figure of $1 for community use.
A council spokesman said the history of the site was unclear and could not confirm the process by which council came to own it.
“The history of the acquisition of this land is unclear and council’s existing records do not provide any background on the acquisition,” the spokesman said.
“Further investigations are being undertaken. Nevertheless, in any proposed redevelopment of the site there will not be any loss of car parking.”
The future of the project remains uncertain as the council has so far not been able to sign a lease agreement with a tenant which documents show is necessary for the project to materialise.