THE $150 million next stage of the billion-dollar rebirth of Ipswich's city centre will include 30,000 square metres of retail, entertainment and dining outlets and opening the Ipswich Mall to face the Bremer River.
The focus of the project, known as Retail Stage One, is replacing the Woolworths in the Mall with an entertainment terrace overlooking River Heart Parklands and a new direct link to the Bradfield pedestrian bridge.
One of the aims of the project is also to incorporate the historic rail objects, including the turntable and signal house.
The $1 billion program to transform Ipswich city centre was announced in 2009, known as Icon Ipswich.
Mayor Paul Pisasale said the overall goal of the redevelopment was to include the Bremer River.
"One thing I've learned from my trips around the place - Chattanooga was a good example - is all great cities around the world embrace their river; you don't turn your back on it," he said. "This next stage, the retail stage, opens up our CBD to the river."
Ipswich City Properties chairman Paul Tully said Ipswich already served as the major western corridor hub and the next phase of redevelopment would be the largest of its kind in the region.
"This is a prime site in the centre of Ipswich. Retail stage one will completely transform this section of the shopping centre as we know it today," he said.
"The vast nature of retail stage one will take in the area between the main rail corridor and river bounded by Ellenborough, Bremer and Bell streets."
It will include a two-level complex with cinemas relocated from Brisbane St, discount department store, relocated supermarket and specialty stores to be potentially constructed over the rail line to North Ipswich, extending to Ellenborough St.
"The Australia-wide EOI campaign will be launched on June 26 and close on July 30. Once contracts are secured, the estimated time frame for construction is 18 months," he said.
"We have strong anchor tenant interest and with the completion of Icon Tower One. There is already a noticeable increase in activity in the mall and nearby streets.
"Future residential apartment sites adjoin the proposed development in one of Queensland's fastest growing areas. It also connects with the major bus and rail hub."
Ipswich land values increase 460% over 10 years
THE past 10 years have seen land values in Ipswich mushroom, coinciding with the radical redevelopment of the city centre.
In 2004 there was no Citiswich, Riverlink or Orion and the latest boost will add to the land values.
"I'm pleased the next phase is moving towards construction at a time when citywide land values in Ipswich had increased 460 percent in 10 years to $12.123 billion. In 2004 it was $2.165 billion," Mayor Paul Pisasale said. "In 2004, before such developments as River Heart Parklands, Riverlink and Orion, we could only dream about what would be achieved through strong partnerships in the city and suburbs."
Cr Pisasale said it was important to add that the value of a city went beyond monetary worth.
"We're talking about growth and economic investment in the city but caring for people and looking after our heritage are just as important," he said. "So our journey has been a complete journey."
A defining moment in that journey, he said, was the council setting up Ipswich City Properties to revitalise the Ipswich city heart.
"To me, the reason we set up Ipswich City Properties is nobody wanted to touch our city; no-one cared. We were the only ones who cared," he said. "We're taking control of our destiny and it's owned by the people."