Mann centre to start in January

Leon Schultz: There will be access points to the site from South and Hovell streets. Picture: TARA GOONAN
Leon Schultz: There will be access points to the site from South and Hovell streets. Picture: TARA GOONAN

THE commencement date for the $65 million Mann shopping centre in Wodonga has been pushed back to early next year.

Confirmation of a mid-January start for the long awaited project follows Wodonga Council this week completing the final formality — the signing of a Section 173 agreement with the developers, Mann Wodonga Properties and E.B. Mann Holding.

A revised planning permit for a 16,000 square metre development with a discount department store, Kmart, Coles supermarket and more than 40 specialty shops was approved in February.

A start on construction had been tipped for late this year, but Wod-onga mayor Rod Wangman confirmed January 14 was the target date following receipt of a draft plan from the developers.

The Section 173 involved improvements to South and Hovell streets which council also ticked off this week.

The council awarded a tender of up to $2.7 million for the roadworks to Excell Gray Bruni with work starting on Monday.

Cr Wangman said yesterday everything was on track even though council entered into a "deed" as a confidential item at this week's council meeting.

“We expect construction to start on the site in January next year,” he said.

“People said the railway line would never move from the middle of town.

“But the project has started though.

“The buildings have been removed, we have removed all the contamination and have agreed to the planning permit.”

The proposed completion date is May 2016.

The council’s planning and infrastructure director Leon Schultz said works would include the creation of access points to the Mann site from South and Hovell streets.

“We are working very closely with the Mann’s people to make sure we are not tripping over each other,” he said.

“We’ve undertaken they will have priority at all times.”

He said the Hovell Street works would be done first and were expected to be completed by Christmas.

The planning permit agreed to in February has a two-year lifespan, but an extension can be applied for.

Cr Wangman said $1.5 million worth of consultants working on plans and the recruiting of tenants for the smaller shops was ongoing.

“We have had conversations recently and I can say they remain very positive about the sign-up of organisations committing to the retail shop areas,” he said.

“What we don’t know is the line they have to get over.

“We (council) will go out and help find tenants for them if needed.”