Mount Gambier City Council to refurbish inner city12 Jun, 2012 11:30 PMA NEW VISION: The proposed new walkway that will provide a pedestrian thoroughfare between Percy Street and Commercial Street East.
MOUNT Gambier City Council will seek to brand the inner city retail precinct as it ramps up its $5m renewal project that aims to get people out of cars and strolling the pavement.
The inner city refurbishment will also include the looming demolition of the vacant former Mutual Community building, extensive new pavement works, a network of destination signage and the evolution of parklets.
The new concept to brand the inner city has been embraced by Mount Gambier Chamber of Commerce, which is expected to play a key role in developing catchy new branding.
With the $80m new Mount Gambier Marketplace just months away from opening, the unprecedented make-over is considered critical in cementing the inner city as the premier boutique shopping precinct.
While the demolition of the former Mutual Community building has been in the pipeline for some years, council is set to move forward with the $250,000 project after foreshadowing yesterday it would support a tender for the demolition of the building that abuts the historic Jens Annexe.
Council yesterday unveiled a redevelopment blueprint of the walkway, which is expected to provide key links from Percy Street to the main shopping strip and provide a modern landscape.
Chamber president Lynette Martin yesterday welcomed news of the potential to brand the centre business district and council stepping up its multi-million-dollar inner city facelift.
"It is an excellent idea if it gets people walking more - the chamber has been promoting and championing this for some time," Ms Martin said.
"We want to pedestrianise the main central business district."
Ms Martin also welcomed news the demolition of the former Mutual Community building was imminent, given it would encourage people to walk around the retail precinct.
'It will certainly add vibrancy," she explained.
With the looming opening of the shopping centre on the northern gateway, Ms Martin said the inner city refurbishment was crucial to ensuring the main street had "point of difference".
Meanwhile, council operational services director Daryl Sexton said while some of the $5m plan had been completed such as Coles carpark and Engelbrecht Lane link, he said the massive project had yet to get fully underway.
"We have got some results on the board, but there is still a fair way to go," Mr Sexton said.
"The project is significant in terms of the budget and the outcome."
He said streetscaping was about to get underway with new "way-finding" signage and paving.
The first of the paving is earmarked for Commercial Street West, between Wehl Street and Elizabeth Street.
He said the initiative to brand the city centre would be in partnership with the state's transport department that had funding for such initiatives and the local chamber of commerce.
Although suggesting that the brand could be "park and stride", he said the catchy phase would need detailed discussion.
Meantime, Mr Sexton said council planned to start the demolition of the former Mutual Community building.
He said council currently leased the other walkway just a number of doors up from the site.
Mr Sexton said the $250,000 project would provide a "very attractive walkway".
BarryMac Electrical co-proprietor Bill Jacob welcomed news the building next door to his shop was likely to be demolished shortly.
"It will really open up the street - it will be terrific," Mr Jacob said.
While the plan had been mooted for some time, he said he was pleased it was now coming to fruition.
Meantime, Hidden Secrets manager Jaymie Brown also welcomed the news of the looming demolition given the store was adjacent the proposed walkway.
"It should make it easier to park around the back and walk through to Commercial Street," Ms Brown said.
The issue will tabled for discussion at council's full meeting on Tuesday.