Centro stage two on the way

WORK on the long-awaited $100 million Centro Shopping Centre second stage could start within the next 12 months.

The positive news for the Fraser Coast economy comes as a result of the sale of Centro Hervey Bay this week to the Stockland Group for close to $70 million.

While Stockland has refused to confirm the sale sources have revealed that the deal was signed off on Thursday.

Top 50 ASX listed company Stockland had circled Centro Hervey Bay back in June last year and the Chronicle reported then that it was close to doing the deal.

One month later the deal was off, but obviously the giant Stockland group, which made close to $400 million in the last half of 2010, had a serious second think.

One of the keys to the sale getting put back on the table was that the Fraser Coast Regional Council had an agreement in place to cut a deal on the infrastructure charges on the second stage of the project if it went ahead in a set time.

With that time period getting close to expiring it meant the cost to build the second stage could have increased by millions.

Centro Hervey Bay was built in the late 1990s as a joint project by the Leda and Centro Properties groups.

Financial troubles for Centro meant that Leda was left to carry the entire financial burden of funding the second stage.

They still moved forward on the planning of the project, but it came unstuck early last year when the Fraser Coast council advised them they’d be hit with massive infrastructure charges if they went ahead. A number of meetings followed and a new arrangement was put in place which was signed off by Mayor Mick Kruger.

There is no doubt if that deal hadn’t been made the Centro sale wouldn’t have proceeded and the second stage of Centro may have always remained a dream rather than a reality.

Council’s decisive action looks as though it has now assured the local economy will get the massive boost it so desperately needs.

The second stage will generate more than 800 construction and retail positions.

Retailers such as Kmart and Coles are believed to have put their hands up for stage two and a number of national fashion outlets are also planning to take up tenancies.

It will mean millions of retail dollars that have walked out of the Fraser Coast to be spent in places like Bundaberg and the Sunshine Coast will now remain in the local economy.

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