Hargreaves Mall is changing! City announces new schedule for project delivery

The Hargreaves Mall is changing!

Over the next two years, major private and public investment in the heart of Bendigo’s city centre will deliver the latest chapter in the life of the Mall.

Changes will start with the installation of a big screen in February 2022, followed by construction of the new ACCOR Mantra Hotel and new shade shelter and landscaping, including a row of new palm trees.

Construction is expected to start in the first half of 2022 on the hotel development, to be built on the former Thomas Jewellers and Bendigo Community Pharmacy sites. It will deliver a 4.5-star, 110-room, six-storey hotel with exciting new café, restaurant and function facilities that will be open to the public.

The project has meant the City will delay construction of the planned shade shelter and landscaping works until 2023, when hotel building works are expected to be largely internal. The aim is to have the hotel, shade structure and landscaping works finish at the same time.

In February, using money saved from not running events during COVID-19, the City will install the big screen on the Mitchell-street end lantern and broadcast movies, music videos, concerts, live sport and community messaging. The screen also has a camera that can be turned on so people in the Mall can interact with it.

City Director Presentation and Assets Brian Westley said these projects represented the future of the Mall.

“Over the next few years there will be some big changes in the Mall, which will help to further activate the area and make it a more exciting and inviting space to stay, dine, shop, hold events or open a new business,” Mr Westley said.

“Just like shopping centres that are updated every seven to 10 years, outdoor public spaces and shopping areas that fulfil a similar purpose also need to be invested in. The last Mall redevelopment was in 2010, so it is nearly 12 years old in its current form.

“The Mall is a popular space to hold community events and it is also a busy place. There are a number of small businesses in the Mall and in the wider precinct, including Killians Walk, that do a great trade.

“The Mall is a big space to fill, so won’t always appear full all the time, and like in many regional areas there are some empty shops but Council has no control over these. It is up to the landlords that own the shops to set affordable rents and lease them out.

“The 2018 Transforming the City Centre Action Plan found the community wanted to see more colour, shade and softness in the Mall. The City has listened to this feedback and that is what the screen, shade shelter and landscaping intend to deliver.

“Other city centre improvements achieved to date include new toilets in the Hargreaves Street multi-storey car park, temporary pop up park (which will make way for the shade structure and permanent landscaping), delivery vehicles now park outside the Mall to make it safer for pedestrians and the lanterns have been re-purposed into successful micro-tenancies to support small businesses.

“It’s also important to remember our broader city centre is changing. The Bendigo TAFE redevelopment is complete and Galkangu (Bendigo GovHub) and the new Law Courts developments are underway. These projects represent an investment of more than $300M in central Bendigo and will bring more people into the city centre to learn, work and do business.

“There will be short term challenges, particularly as the hotel is a major project and there will be disruptions associated with this. However, the City will work with the hotel developer to reduce disruption as much as possible while the Mall is changing and we prepare to welcome this next chapter for our city centre.”

The City is currently using internal resources to redesign the shade structure, which is a key initiative of the Transforming the City Centre Action Plan.

Earlier this year the City announced it would build a wooden shade structure and had allocated $500,000 for the project. However, the construction tenders received were considerably over this amount due to the significant increase in the cost of materials during COVID-19.

The landscaping works that will sit around the bottom of the shade structure, including new permanent public seating, low-level stage for outdoor performances and additional greenery, will be delivered at the same time as the shade structure. A date to remove the temporary pop-up park is still to be set.

As part of the planned landscaping works, the City will also replace 26 Kauri Pines with Cotton Palms along the Killians Walk-side of the Mall. 

The Kauri Pines are effectively rootbound and there is evidence of pavement cracking. They were originally intended to grow for a period of time before being transplanted into local parkland. Unfortunately, the considerable growth of the trees has not allowed this to happen.

A date to remove the Kauri Pines is still to be set and the City plans to reuse the timber in other projects. The Cotton Palms have been chosen due to their large, attractive, fan-shaped leaves that will bring instant greenery to the Mall.

To read FAQs relating to the planned changes in the Mall, visit www.bendigo.vic.gov.au/hargreavesmall

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