Now the complex showcases a“trifecta of supermarkets”, Westfield Hurstville centre manager, Linda Hurst, told Inside Retail Weekly, having launched Woolworths in addition to the existing Coles and Aldi. “And we now have a trifecta of BBSs [bigbox stores] as well, because we launched Big W and that’s alongside a revitalised Kmart and Target,” she added.
Other major and minimajor retailers in the centre include JB HiFi Home, Rebel Sport and the first Sydney flagship store of Cotton On. Other specialty retailers launched within the fashion area include Universal Store, Bonds, Forcast, Industrie and Sheriton Shoes. Valleygirl is set to open shortly, and further new retailers may be introduced in line with lease expiry profiles.
The redevelopment has a focus on the local community, and that sentiment informed the final outcome of the major redevelopment project, according to Hurst. Dining was a big consideration, so a rooftop dining concept was launched with three restaurants initially – Burger Co, Oliver Brown and The Shed, with The Hellenic opening just before the Christmas season on December 24.
“It’s a really nice mix of cuisine,” Hurst said. “Because it really is a community centre, one of the big things we concentrated on was the whole dining destination part of it, which is why rooftop dining has been so important. “We put a lot of operators through them all to make it a real dining destination for people. It’s all about getting it just right for community.”
Other food operators due to open between the first and second quarters of 2016 include Taste of Shanghai, with Chef’s Gallery and Sushi Hub opening on other levels at Westfield Hurstville. The fresh food precinct is also seeing some recent additions, with Tong Li Supermarket, MD Meats and Christopher’s Cake Shop having just opened or about to be introduced.
Westfield Hurstville services a trade area of over 329,000 people and receives an average of 17.8 million annual customer visits. The revitalised centre has already seen renewed interest from the local community. “We are seeing a really good response to the centre and growth in terms of traffic coming through,” Hurst observed.
Every part of the centre was transformed – all columns, new escalators were placed throughout the centre, and every floor surface was redone. To assist shoppers, visual cues are provided by having different tiles on each floor. “There are seven different forms of tiles used throughout the centre to help people navigate because it’s a spiral centre,” Hurst explained.
New lighting, modernising the ceilings by squaring them off – replacing the older elliptical style – and lush pot plants are additional new features that refresh the centre cosmetically. “There’s beautiful pot plants – people are often coming up to me and asking, “Where did you get those pot plants?’,” Hurst said.
Family friendly furniture
The two food court areas were completely redesigned and feature new furniture – the one at the lower end has leather lounge chairs and has been renamed The Eatery as it’s more of a relaxation zone for centre visitors to catch up over coffee. Another draw card and convenient feature of the seating throughout the new Westfield Hurstville are USB and recharge stations, so people can easily recharge their phones and devices while on site.
Continuing the technology features and family theme, a number of large screens have been installed for children to play games on, which stand upright on the ground. “We put in digital playins for kids on level 1,” Hurst explained. “That’s an interactive digital screen; they’re quite large screens, which allow a number of kids to stand in front and interact with the screen.”
More of these interactive digital screens are due to be finished on the rooftoparea in the next quarter. These screens are in addition to the smart screens, totems and the main super screen within the centre that serve as guides for shoppers as well as showcase advertising for retailers.
Also on the rooftop a herb garden has been established, so not only can the restaurateurs use it in their food, it’s also for education purposes for schools, with classes currently under consideration.
The rooftop dining precinct has also been strategically positioned so that patrons exiting the newly redeveloped movie cinemas move straight into the new dining area. “[The Events area] is brilliant because they’ve totally pulled it all out so every single cinema has been redone and all the foyer – it’s a totally changed concept,” Hurst said. “It’s beautiful, and the beauty now of it is you have a fantastic cinema, with VMax, which is actually the biggest [of its type] in Sydney.”
Continuous trading during revamp Despite undergoing a major upgrade that took around 10 months to complete, the centre never closed and successfully traded throughout the construction period. “We pretty much went hell for leather and did it in one go,” Hurst explained. “We just kept going right round the centre and communicating with shoppers and the retailers what was happening, and the shoppers were fantastic. They were excited to see the changes because they were in the midst of seeing the changes rather than the changes being behind hoardings.”
Usually developments are about adding onto a centre rather than completely revitalising the existing centre, so normally the use of hoarding is appropriate. “There were no hoardings [needed] because the whole centre was operational throughout the whole period of time,” Hurst elaborated. “It would be construction work after hours and then the shoppers would come in the next morning and see something different again.” Also completely revamped was the car park, with ticketless technology being introduced that includes parking guidance technology enabling drivers to locate free spaces more easily.
This has also translated to other efficiencies in terms of freeing up more space for shoppers: because the centre is so close to a train station, it used to attract a lot of commuters who weren’t necessarily shopping at the centre. “Now we’ve got this ticketless parking, it’s really parking for the shopper, so the all day parkers who weren’t shopping at our retailers don’t park here anymore and we get true shoppers parking, so there’s been more spaces available for shoppers.”
The final tweaks of the redevelopment should be finished by midyear – works such as the skylights, some of the rooftop and parents’ rooms and restrooms, which will see cubicles increase in size by 45 per cent.
This large and efficiently completed makeover is already seeing a real rejuvenation of the centre, according to Hurst. “It’s just a fantastic investment of $105 million and we’ve really delivered on it. It’s been great.”
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