NEARLY 50 shops are up for lease or sale on High Street in Wodonga with growing concern about the number of vacant buildings on the town’s main street.
There are 30 buildings up for rent or sale between the water tower and Elgin Boulevard.
There are five vacant sites between Elgin Boulevard and South Street and further vacancies are available at nearby Mann Central.
Some major tenants, including Coles and the Commonwealth Bank have relocated to nearby sites, along with smaller businesses.
The biggest site, the 2300 square metre Coles building, is up for lease at a cost of about $400,000 a year, having moved last October after 44 years in the location.
Beazley’s Meats owner Jeff Beazley moved from High Street into Morrison Street in 2016.
He had worked on the main street for decades and said high rents could be having an impact, along with planned works.
The changes will remove the dip in the road, improve drainage, and include repaving and new street lights.
Three crossings will also be installed.
“I think a lot of people are scared about the roadworks that are going to happen soon,” Mr Beazley said.
“You’re not going to move into a shop where the are a heap of roadworks going on and people can’t get to it.
“I’ve worked in High Street since age 15, they’ve tried a lot of different things over the years.”
Mr Beazley believes Albury-Wodonga may have an oversupply of shopping centres, leading to a struggle to fill the vacant buildings.
There are 42 sites for lease on High Street, not including at Mann Central, and five for sale with a top asking price of $2.8 million.
Coffee Mama owner Matt Sheridan said things were “a little tough at the moment” but had picked up since the last round of works.
He said there was no silver bullet that would address issues on the shopping strip.
“It’s a very good question,” Mr Sheridan said when asked how to attract new businesses.
“I don't think there’s an answer for that.
“I think that’s something the business networks in Wodonga and Wodonga Council need to sit down and whiteboard.
“There’s no silver bullet for that one.”
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Wodonga Retailers Group president Greg Haysom expects the vacant buildings to fill once the roadworks have been completed mid next year.
“This end is just about full,” he said of the redeveloped area.
“That will happen again at the other end.
“I’m pretty excited about what Wodonga will have once it’s all finished.”
Wodonga Council has been contacted for comment.
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