THE HEART and soul of Ipswich is set to return.
A $150 million redevelopment of the Ipswich CBD is set to start within 12 months after an historic deal struck between Ipswich City Properties (ICP) and leading developer epc.Pacific.
The new council administration headquarters and library will be relocated in a nine-storey building constructed to cutting edge environmental standards.
The urban regeneration will also feature leisure and entertainment venues, cafes, restaurants and specialty stores in a three-level retail and mixed-use centre.
A new town square will see a strong focus on food, beverage and alfresco dining.
Ipswich City Properties chairman Cr Paul Tully said the redevelopment would see Nicholas St mall opened to face the river for the first time since 1987.
He said the existing Woolworths would be demolished and likely relocated to a prominent mall site adjoining Union Place.
The shops between the rotunda and Bremer St will be removed and Nicholas St and Union Place reopened to one-way traffic from Brisbane St to Bell St.
Cr Tully said the redevelopment would put "the heart and soul back into Ipswich".
"It is going to be a real hub of the city," he said.
"Even though we are a city of centres, this is going to be the key centre in the entire city.
"It is where people will want to come day and night with outdoor dining.
"We have seen places around the world where they have attracted people from the suburbs right into the CBD.
"We want to reverse a trend which has been a problem for a number of years.
"We want to bring people in. There will be office space and residential space when it is fully completed."
Cr Tully said malls at Orion, Springfield Central and Townsville were opened to traffic and that malls which weren't had historically been unsuccessful.
He said there would also be a continuous pedestrian link which would open up towards the Bremer River and Riverlink.
Epc.Pacific had great success with similar mixed use urban regenerations in Victoria's Dandenong, which has a similar demographic to Ipswich, and in Adelaide.
Those projects were worth $500 million and $400 million respectively.
The company has a track record of developing corporate headquarters, with a strong retail history as well.
Managing director Patrick Smith said it would be the creative and design industries, in concert with the community, which would define the content of the future Ipswich CBD, set to be completed in 2018-19.
"It is not us that is going to make Ipswich regenerate itself, it is the community," he said.
"We are providing the physical platform, the spaces, the public areas and amenity that people can enjoy.
"But it is up to them to put the program in...whether that be the concerts, the events, or the school activities.
"The question we are asking Ipswich is: 'What do you want it to be about? How do you want to define yourselves?'
"Ipswich is part of the social fabric of Queensland and has got a great story. What is the next chapter?"
"We want people involved and the community to drive it.
"That will help us get a return on our capital and a return on our social investment as well."
Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale said the journey to yesterday's announcement had been long but worthwhile.
"We are creating a town centre here," he said.
"It is a mall, not based on Woolworths or Coles, but based on people.
"It will be a destination.
"By having council and the library down here, we will be part of the process."
Cr Pisasale said the development would bring people to the CBD, a fight other cities had been losing.
"But we are going to win the fight and create a real town centre," he said.
Cr Andrew Antoniolli said the relocated library and administration centre would bring additional activity to the city centre.
"The library alone generates significant foot traffic with about 8000 people every week passing through its doors," he said.