Workers on site as major CBD redevelopment work begins
WORK has begun to reverse the "spiral of decline" in Ipswich's city centre with construction of the most significant part of the CBD redevelopment under way.
About 200 workers moved on to the site today to begin construction of a new Ipswich City Council administration centre, library and civic plaza over the course of the next two years.
Hutchinson Builders was selected as the preferred tenderer of the $140million contract in June, which was the largest in the city's 160-year history, and 300 workers will be onsite at peak times.
The plaza will be the size of Brisbane's King George Square but a focus has been put on green spaces and natural light so it doesn't become a copy of the capital city's "heat sink".
On his first day on the job about a year ago, council interim administrator Greg Chemello took a walk through the CBD.
Having not set foot in the mall for a decade prior, "he couldn't believe" how much it had declined.
"While the CBD redevelopment has started, it hasn't been quite as visible as some would like," he said.
"The most important thing is it will revitalise the city, the purpose of the redevelopment is to bring life back into the CBD.
"For almost 10 years, it's slowly declined and that decline will stop... we need to reverse the decline."
Mr Chemello understood there had been false starts in the past but "a very bright light at the end of the tunnel" was now visible.
"To me, this wasn't the most important thing for me to address in the year and a half I'm here but it's the most symbolic thing for me to do I think," he said.
"It's more than just the CBD businesses... the community has lost its heart and soul in the CBD and it's important that the CBD has a place that they can be proud of."
Council is in discussions with dozens of potential tenants for the retail building it owns.
Mr Chemello said he would be in a position to announce the first group of successful businesses and tenants before Christmas.
"What they're seeing is the future of the city as we see it," he said.
"It's a health-based, retail, entertainment, food and beverage offering in a fantastic environment with a combination of old and new buildings.
"I can visualise the city in five or 10 years humming with life. That might be hard for some residents to currently see but I personally look forward to coming back in that time and having a coffee in one of the shops and sitting around and seeing the city where it should be."
He said council was looking at a combination of entertainment, retail, food and beverage businesses to move in.
"This is not a major shopping centre, this is a civic plaza and civic development. It's anchored by the council administration centre with the children's library and main library and plaza that can do events for 3000 people."
Works to reinstate Nicholas St are ahead of schedule with contractor JMAC Constructions starting the second phase of the road and landscaping installation.
Hutchinson's will also upgrade the existing carpark, finalise works on Nicholas St and Union Place and ensure the Bremer St traffic ramps are completed.
Nicholas St roadworks are expected to be completed by Easter next year, the library is set to be open by the middle of next year and the council administration building is slated for completion by mid-2021.