Mall revamp thumbs up
City shoppers, workers’ survey
THE multi-million dollar Flinders St Mall funding announcement couldn’t have come at a better time.
In a readers survey conducted by the Townsville Bulletin, 49 per cent of 1100-plus respondents either never visited the mall or only visited it rarely.
This was a 10 per cent improvement on results collected in the survey last year, but even Townsville Mayor Tony Mooney agreed more people needed to visit the city heart.
Still beaming following the Federal Government announcement it would kick in $20 million to redevelop the mall, Cr Mooney said the CBD needed a revamp.
‘‘The fact is the mall has become very tired. We want it to be a people friendly place, we want it to be a vibrant place with restaurants, recreation areas,’’ he said.
‘‘We need to get a lot more people coming down town.’’
The Bulletin survey revealed the respondents who do visit the mall shopped there and/or visit Cotters Markets.
But 61 per cent were not happy with the quality of shops in the CBD and 76 per cent feel there were not enough parking spots.
Cr Mooney said the community had made it clear they wanted a high end department store like a Myer or David Jones, as well as additional high end retailers in Townsville.
‘‘I won’t rule out further incentives to attract a Myer or a DJs or some other major department store to come to our downtown,’’ he said.
CBD parking was a persistent gripe among survey respondents. Of the 13 per cent who work in the CBD, 33 per cent use a company car park, 31 per cent use street parking and only 9.5 per cent use the Dean Street car park.
More than 70 per cent of the CBD workers felt there was insufficient all-day parking with only 19 per cent carrying out most of their shopping in the CBD.
But council is yet to come up with a car parking solution.
‘‘We hear the feedback, some things can be resolved quickly, some things can’t,’’ Cr Mooney said.
‘‘I just want to make the community aware of the fact that CBD parking is an ongoing issue.
‘‘We have no major new inner-city parking initiatives . . . but we are aware of those issues and we are monitoring them.’’
But don’t expect an improved Flinders St Mall anytime soon, with the redevelopment off the table until 2008-09.
‘‘We can’t afford to do it before then,’’ Cr Mooney said.
Council would work in conj u n c t i o n with Laurence L a n c i n i ’ s m a j o r m a l l development.
Cr Mooney said he hoped to put the mall development proposal to council early next year.
Most respondents (57 per cent) think the mall should not be opened to traffic, up from 53 per cent last year.
Of those who did, 61 per cent thought council should work on it as a priority.
But council is yet to reveal its position on creating a traffic thoroughfare through Flinders St Mall.
‘‘That’s something that I have to say in my preliminary discussions and what I’ve read from other comments is still a bit of a divided opinion, even from the development community,’’ Cr Mooney said.
‘‘But certainly the community has made it clear to me that if they can see a major redevelopment (including) highend retailing, cinemas and additional car parking, they’re prepared to look at that trade-off.’’
Mall users Amy Milligan and Rebecca Keats welcomed the mall funding announcement.
Ms Milligan said she worked in the CBD so she visited the mall most working days.
She said an improvement in the calibre of shopping options had seen her become a Flinders Mall shopper recently.
‘‘I hope the revamp will make the mall look better and more family friendly,’’ she said.
Ms Milligan said she caught a bus into the CBD because car parking around the city was too expensive.
KEEN . . . mall users Rebecca Keats and Amy Milligan