SHOW OF FAITH

EXCLUSIVE

By TOBY WALKER

REVISED development plans for an estimated $50 million extension and refurbishment of Grafton Shoppingworld were unveiled yesterday.

The blueprints presented by developers, the McConaghy Group, during a private presentation at Shoppingworld contained a pedestrian arcade linking Prince Street to the new centre.

The link, which will be lined with retail stores, was deemed necessary by the Prince Street Traders' group and the Grafton City Chamber of Commerce who opposed the previous plans on grounds that linkage to the CBD was inadequate.

The new plan almost doubles the lettable area of the centre with an increase from 17000sqm to 31000sqm allowing a second discount department store (Target), a second supermarket and 30 additional specialty shops.

Other features of the plans include the provision of close to 850 undercover carparks, expanding on the current number of 300.

A carpark twice as large as the one previously proposed in the plans will also be constructed near the corner of Prince and Pound streets and ownership transferred to the Clarence Valley Council.

This will be done in return for extending the centre into the existing Duke Street carpark.

Architecturally, the centre will follow the example of the modern designs of other centres, opting for awnings and glass panels to decorate the building's facade.

Alfresco dining and extensively landscaped gardens will be major features of the attempt to ensure the centre interacts with the CBD.

Inside, a floorplan dotted with coloured tiles inspired by the Clarence River will be complemented by ceiling plans and decorative features that will identify with Grafton's iconic jacaranda trees.

Centre manager Greg Hayes said the existing layout of the centre would be completely remodelled excepting Woolworths and Big W, which would remain in their current locations.

McConaghy Group managing director Robert McConaghy said a new era for the centre was due and he believed the plans would deliver a facility that could entice people to shop in Grafton rather than heading to Lismore or Coffs Harbour.

"We first built this centre in 1987 and since then the Clarence Valley's tastes have grown, so it's time (for Grafton Shoppingworld) to grow again," he said.

Plans were lodged yesterday with the Clarence Valley Council.

Mr McConaghy was hopeful that construction could begin in mid-2005.

He said the centre would continue to trade during the construction phase, which he expected would take 12-18 months.



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