MORE than 100 years after the first Co-Store opened in Wangaratta, the shopping centre’s $33 million makeover has been unveiled.
When it first opened on September 15, 1906, the Co-Store employed just 10 staff and had a total weekly payroll of 39 pounds.
Doug Ferguson, 92, was born in Wangaratta and worked in the Co-Store footwear department from 1970 to 1987 before he retired at the age of 65.
Yesterday he said the store had come a long way since it opened — when saleyards were located across the road.
“There were only about eight or nine stores here when I worked here,” Mr Ferguson said.
“You couldn’t imagine saleyards across the road now could you?
“There used to be sheep and cows walking down the road here.”
The new and improved Co-Store is located next to Wangaratta’s Riverside Precinct and King George Gardens.
It boasts a three level car park with 365 car spaces and bike parking, as well as the city’s first escalator.
The makeover was seven years in the planning and was completed over 15 months by the owner of the Co-Store Prudential Commercial Investments.
Joss Constructions managed the renovations, which were completed by 525 tradespeople.
James Scremin, from Prudential Commercial Investments, said the centre was expected to generate about 150 jobs when all stages were completed.
“The centre combines entertainment, shopping, food and parking and creates a great meeting place for people,” Mr Scremin said.
“This is the opening of stage one, which involves getting The Reject Shop, Target and Subway open, but we will be opening other shops over the next three to four months until the centre is full.”
Leasing agent with Garry Nash, Mike Noble, said there had been strong interest from potential tenants for the centre and he hoped the renovations would bring in more customers.
“We are looking for a mixture of shops including hair and beauty, fashion and food,” Mr Noble said.
The complex is expected to be fully leased and open by Christmas.