AN OPENING date has been set for one of the most longed-for commercial projects in Ipswich's history.
The massive new Coles superstore in the Ipswich CBD is scheduled to open on Wednesday, February 6.
Rising from the mire of the flooded centre of Ipswich after the 2011 floods, the 6000sq m store is expected to be the retail saviour of the CBD.
Surrounding stores have reopened after the floods, but have struggled, waiting with hope for the stimulus from the sprawling superstore.
Store manager Ken Lothian was like a proud father as he gave the QT a sneak peek of the impressive Ipswich Coles superstore.
"We're on track to open on February 6 at this stage," said Mr Lothian as he walked around the extensive two-level building.
"The internal is way ahead of the external so we can keep working inside while they get to work on the external.
"We had a meeting the other day with a couple of key retailers in the downtown part of Ipswich and they're very excited about us reopening.
A lot of this area hasn't got going again after the floods while this has been closed so this should revitalise this part of town.
Main features of the superstore include a huge apparel section and a fishmonger, butcher and baker in an extensive market-style area at the rear of the store.
The market alley reflects the changing nature of Australian food shopping; open like a marketplace so customers can see everything.
That includes cheeses, salads, olives, deli products, a flame chicken rotisserie and fresh fish on ice with a chef to give tips on how to cook it.
"We've obviously got the usual supermarket lines, but the big change that separates it from other supermarkets is the Mix line of clothing and a really big general merchandise section as well," Mr Lothian said.
"There are 286 parking bays, which is basically double what used to be here, and that's good for the community as well.
The recruiting process is all online. We're on track for 300-350 staff with an indigenous training program as well.
"I've done a lot of inductions with staff which is the initial stages and now they are in training at the various stores around the place.
"We'll do a lot more in the new year and then we'll leave the school and uni students until last."
There is two levels of parking, one a quick-stop area at store level, and the other underneath, with both having access to both Brisbane and Limestone Sts.
Floodwater came about half-way up the first level last January so to that extent the building has been flood-proofed.
There is a cluster of enormous rainwater tanks on that level to catch storm water from the massive roof.
The water will be used in the superstore's toilets and the excess can be slowly released into the city's water supply system. There is a coffee shop just inside the front entrance and also a Liquorland bottle shop.
Features of the open-plan building include LED lighting, special roof insulation and movement-activated light switches in back-room areas to save electricity use.
After the former store was inundated in January 2011, engineers realised a new store would have to be built above the flood line.
Last October, the old Coles was demolished and work started on the first Coles superstore in Queensland.