IT’S not just Queen Street Mall that will benefit from the $100m redevelopment of Wintergarden (pictured) but Elizabeth and Edward streets will also bask in a renewed focus once the project is complete in April.

Developer ISPT says the shopping centre’s new design will dynamically connect these streets to the Queen Street Mall and ensure they are more than simply thoroughfares.

Development director Chris McCluskey says the project is on target and budget.

“We are feeling pretty good about our progress and the commerce which is holding up the project; we are very pleased about our rentals and we’re achieving our budget in that area,” he says.

“The project is tracking very strongly and the opening date will be at the beginning of April. Along with the Regent, it will reinstate Elizabeth Street as a boulevard and it will be impressive.”

Designs for the centre include a spectacular 3500sq m façade or metal artwork across the Hilton Hotel and Wintergarden car park on Elizabeth and Edwards streets and mall.

The development is considered a boon for the city at a time when bricks and mortar is facing a threat from online adversaries. Fit-outs have started, with a number of headline tenants already locked in for the flagship space on the mall.

The centre will feature the first Australian outlets of Spanish footwear company Camper and leather-specialist Coach out of the US. French Connection, Lisa Ho and Seed are others set to call the centre home.

Other stores will include Lee Jeans, Rockport, Swarovski, Rodd & Gunn, R.M. Williams, Wittner, Georg Jensen and Anthony’s Fine Jewellery.

McClusky says bricks and mortar is an integral part of a retail business and the development proves that shopfronts will be around for many years to come.

It is estimated that 25 million pedestrians walk through the Queen Street Mall each year.

“The long-term view of the industry is that a dual platform model with a strong bricks and mortar presence and a strong online presence backed by a strong brand and properly controlled brand is the best position to meet the challenge of online,” he says.

“Retailers are making plans to be around in five to 10 years and longer, not just for the next 12 months.”

McCluskey says ISPT provided 100 per cent equity for the investment and the company didn’t use debt at the project level.

“ISPT spent the best part of four years on design and creation of the centre, so we had what we felt was a product that had been done right,” he says.

“What was of foremost importance was return on rentals and those returns will be very attractive.”

Designers The Buchan Group are involved, while studio505 is doing the façade and awning work, and RCP is project manager.

The Buchan Group director, Gerry Holmes, says shoppers wil be impressed on opening day.

“It is a fashion centre, so we wanted to make a fashion statement and make the shop fronts as prominent as we could,” he says.

“There are top quality finishes inside, the floor is laser cut stone, the design pulls the inside and outside together, it is really holistic. The public will find something that is soothing and enjoyable .It is something I am very proud of.”

One of the first tasks the architects undertook was to open the centre up to surrounding streets and simplify the way shoppers moved through the building.

“The mall runs from Queen Street to Elizabeth Street, so the first thing we wanted to do was reinstate the mid-block connection,” says Holmes.

“If you can’t see through somewhere, you don’t go and you don’t walk through, you are ignorant there is a link there. If you can fix the level changes and make it so people can see through to the other side, they are more likely to enter.”

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