THE JOURNEY is just beginning.
Tomorrow Ipswich City Council will unveil the details of its much anticipated $150 million redevelopment of the CBD.
Council's administrative offices, city library and civic centre will be relocated into a 5-Star Green Star multi-level building.
Nicholas St mall will be opened up to face the river, with the existing Woolworths to be demolished.
A new 3800sqm Woolworths will be relocated to a prominent mall site adjoining Union Place with up to 30 specialty market-style stores, public gardens, green space and the retention of existing multi-level car park.
The development will feature a strong focus on food, beverage and alfresco dining options fronting a new town square.
When the development is completed in 2018-19, Ipswich residents will be able to stand at the top of the mall and see the river for the first time since 1987.
The project will be realised thanks to council-owned company Ipswich City Properties partnering with a renowned Melbourne-based developer.
The developer, to be announced tomorrow, has a 50-year track record of development in Australia and is a leader in urban regeneration.
The new council building will see the digital smart city strategy of Ipswich City Council ramp up.
Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale said the plans for the CBD would usher in a watershed moment in CBD history
"We have looked at best practices around the world and tomorrow the people of Ipswich are going to see our vision for a magnificent CBD," he said
"It will be entertainment based and a commercial hub.
"We will not be competing against regional shopping centres.
"We are creating a city heart of its own.
"It will be Ipswich's version of a place that is activated for the people of the region.
"It will be a destination.
"One thing we have learned is that great cities embrace their rivers.
"That is what we are doing.
"The plans have been in place with River Heart and the Bradfield Bridge. This will finish it off."
Cr Pisasale said the development was the culmination of years of planning.
"In 2009 we had a CBD that was being neglected by foreign owners and that was in decline," he said.
"We couldn't get any business or commercial investors in the city at all.
"So I went to the council and I will never forget ringing Cr Paul Tully at 5.30am and saying 'we have to buy the CBD and take control of our own destiny'.
"That decision was the hardest I had to make.
"The CEO and council then set up a mechanism to buy it and we set up Ipswich City Properties.
"We borrowed the money from the State Government, set up directors and set the company up with State Government approvals.
"After all these years of hard work we are seeing the fruits of our efforts."