WAITING: The CBD’s new tenants have been slow in arriving. Getting people to invest in the CBD has been a hard slog for leasing agents.
THE IPSWICH CBD has been a focus of the local news for years now and every time the issue comes up someone fires up to say it wouldn’t have died if Riverlink didn’t open.
The comment in part is correct.
When Riverlink started trading in 2007 the CBD was mortally wounded.
But what the critics conveniently forget to recognise is the fact the CBD was already on life support.
It is not unfair to say it was becoming a wasteland.
Shoppers had deserted it and were heading off down the road in their cars and going to the closest major shopping centre and spending their cash.
You couldn’t blame them, there was great concern for public safety and there was a major lack of retail choice.
Millions of dollars in retail spend was draining away and ending up in the coffers of out of town owners.
Leda Holdings Bob Ell did what most developers had shied away from doing and that was to commit $250m
into building a major shopping centre on the old Railway Workshop land.
Leda had to spend millions on firstly rehabilitating the land which had become a toxic waste dump after years of neglect and pollution by the railways.
When finished locals had the opportunity to turn their cars around and they did.
Instead of driving down the highway they supported Riverlink.
It gave local retailers who had been slowly going bankrupt in the CBD the chance to move across the river and save their businesses.
Riverlink also presented job opportunities for locals and over the years thousands have called it their workplace.
The debacle surrounding the council buying property in the CBD is another story and shouldn’t be confused with the history of Riverlink.
A rejuvenated CBD with the new council chambers and library and the right tenant mix can work in tandem with Riverlink.
And that is the key fact here.
The question every ratepayer should now be asking is how many millions is council now throwing at securing
retailers and are these retailers just a replica of what is already over the river?
I hope to answer that question in the coming issues.