THE FUTURE of the Coles car park in central Bendigo could be very different as the City of Greater Bendigo considers the potential for redevelopment at the prime site.
Council has identified the two-storey car park between Myers Street and Lyttleton Terrace as a strategic redevelopment site and is investigating options for the future of the site.
"(The site) is one of those things we regularly review," council senior strategic planner Phil DeAraugo said. "We are mindful that we are using ratepayers' money to pay for maintenance on the site and want to ensure we are spending it wisely."
Investigations are beginning with a call to the Bendigo community to share their views on whether the car park should be kept, re-developed or sold.
Council director of strategy and growth Steve Hamilton said early engagement with residents and businesses in this area will help councillors better understand the site, its use and its future potential.
"A decision on whether to retain or sell the site is still some time off and will not be considered until after the community engagement process is completed, reviewed and reported to council," he said. "Councillors are keen to understand community views as the first step in this process."
Mr DeAraugo said no decision has been made on the site but that Bendigo was a growing city.
"We're really just at the start of the process, we want to find community views on whether we should keep or dispose of it," he said. "As part of the Bendigo City Centre Plan, the car park and Coles site has been identified it could be redeveloped in the future. It has good access and is a big site.
"The concept (on the website) is one of a hundred different options. It relies on being done in partnership with the owner of the Coles building and there is no reason a different version of that could happen. We have to remind people that in future, Bendigo will be bigger and better."
"A redevelopment could make sense if we had a supermarket, other shops and potential apartments. We have seen metropolitan Melbourne places like Ivanhoe do that."
The car park is owned by council and leased to the privately-owned Lyttleton Terrace Shopping Centre. The centre includes a supermarket, bakery, butcher, lolly shop, op shop and bottle shop.
Mr DeAraugo said there would always be a need for car parking in the central area of Bendigo.
"From a community perspective, I think car parking is the most important thing," he said. "There's always a high demand for car parks in area. As long as there's a supermarket, there'll be plenty of car parking. But there is lots of air space above (the carpark)."
To help people learn more about the site, council has developed detailed information on our Let's Talk platform. People will also be able to complete a survey relating how often they use the site and what they would like to see happen to it.
Mr DeAraugo said council has already started seeking out the views of businesses located in the area.
"We have chatted with traders in area and, as you would expect, it is a bit of mixed bag," he said. "Some didn't realise city owned it, some would like to see a redevelopment and some remember the when upper deck was built and the disruption it had to business then."
The car park was developed in the early 1980s in an effort to attract a supermarket before the second storey was added in the mid-1990s.
"I must emphasise that no decisions have been made about this City-owned car park site and this community engagement is only the start of this investigation," Mr Hamilton said.
"This is a high profile and centrally located site with multiple street frontages and there are mixed views about how this site currently works within the city centre and opportunities for it to be enhanced."
For more information, complete a survey or to have your say visit https://letstalkgreaterbendigo.com.au/investigating-future-coles-car-park. The survey closes on October 13.
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