Transformation on the drawing board
Plans to build new housing, shops and a cinema complex have residents, traders, developers and the council excited about a bright future for former sleepy town
FORMERLY a sleepy backwater suburb of Sydney, St Marys is on the radar of enthusiastic developers with an eye for value.
With the planned expansion by Mirvac of St Marys Village shopping centre and the Queen St precinct already getting an overhaul, developers are keenly eyeing off opportunities.
One vacant 40ha industrial lot has an asking price of nearly $9 million while a 2ha residential site, comprising three houses, has a price tag of $2.2 million.
Developer 337 St Marys, which is planning a unit complex at the entrance to St Marys, says of the suburb: “The future development and growth plans for St Marys are mind boggling.
“In a few years, the St Marys we now know will be completely transformed in keeping with the growth the west is currently experiencing.”
According to Penrith Council’s July business papers, there are plans to expand St Marys Village up to Queen St and build a cinema complex.
The proposal allows for 14,000sq m of public space including 8400sq m of green space and a free, untimed basement carpark to replace the West Lane 140 spaces.
A Penrith Council spokesman said the Mirvac proposal lined up with its vision for Queen St “to be the vibrant heart of the district”.
He said the council was in discussions with Mirvac regarding its proposal but details were still being worked through.
“Including shopping centres into the fabric of the Town Centre and providing improved pedestrian connection to Queen St are part of that vision,” the spokesman said.
“Mirvac’s preliminary concept is generally consistent with this vision as it expands the shopping centre towards Queen St and provides opportunities for new and improved pedestrian connections. The upgrade will help boost economic development and shopper satisfaction.”
Mirvac development manager Robert Beck said Mirvac was working on a conceptual masterplan for the site.
Mr Beck said he was excited to explore this opportunity further and deliver a revitalised centre.
“Should the proposal proceed, this multi million-dollar investment will improve the shopping experience and convenience for our customers, while also benefiting the wider St Marys community through the integration with the main street of St Marys and the creation of hundreds of new jobs,” Mr Beck said.
Mirvac did not detail its specific plans for St Marys.
While some Queen St shop owners were concerned about the effects of development on their businesses most agreed the area was overdue for a facelift.
Danielle Tumoana of Fernz Cafe said: “I do think the development will lift St Marys. I think there needs to be a place where young people and working families can go to sit down and do a bit of shopping and eating.
“That will certainly add value to the properties in the area as well.”
Hair and Beauty Bargain Bazaar owner Shivani
“History is progress ... we aren’t against it. But it’s nice to keep your past as well.” Carol Volkiene
Chaudhary said: “It would be good to brighten up the place and make it more modern as long as they don’t get rid of all the trees and keep a balance with nature.”
St Marys and District Historical Society president Carol Volkiene said the society was not against progress.
“But we would like to think whatever is planned for St Marys retains the suburb’s soul and character,” Ms Volkiene said. “History is progress ... we aren’t against it. But it’s nice to keep your past as well.”
Top: an artist’s impression of the St Mary’s Tower development on the Great Western Highway. Middle: the vision for Queen St. Below: some of the housing planned.