Saturday, 4 June 2016

Westside Plaza

In March 1977, Townsville-based builder and developer Kern Bros. Ltd completed its first shopping centre development in the city amid a flurry of building projects that demonstrated its faith in the economic future of the north Queensland region.

Westside Plaza, Bamford Lane, Kirwan, circa 1977.
Photo: Townsville City Libraries.
Westside Plaza, which was built by Kern Construction (Townsville) Pty Ltd at a cost of $2 million for the AMP Society, was bounded by Bamford Lane, Mill Drive, Joyce and Frank Streets in Kirwan, and had on-site parking for more than 900 cars.

Work began on Westside Plaza in August 1976 and all leases for available shops were taken up within a few days of the announcement of the job.

Mr Joe Griffin, who was letting agent for Westside Plaza, said the number of lease applications far exceeded the available space, which reflected the rapid development of the Mountview residential area, and retailers’ faith in its continuing growth potential.

The plaza’s anchor tenant was Denham’s Supa-Value supermarket, a retailer with a long history dating back to 1896. With a total area of 1,320 square metres, this was the largest of Denham’s seven Queensland stores.

The new Denham’s Supa-Value incorporated the latest designs in supermarket layout with special sections for frozen food, fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy produce, delicatessen, kitchen goods and manchester.

Specialty stores included Tancred Meats, Chandlers Appliances, Westside Plaza Pharmacy, Walker’s Hot Bread Shop, Handyman’s Discount Paints and Hardware, Joy’s Fabrics, The Gift Gallery, Nancy Gower Hair Salon, Wildhorses Coffee Bar, and Westside Fruit Mart.

Mr Fred Campbell, the Minister for Industrial Development, who officially opened the centre on March 7, said that ventures such as Westside Plaza were strengthening Townsville’s commercial base and bringing skills and employment.

“But, perhaps more than anything else they (Kern Bros.) are demonstrating faith and confidence at a time when they are badly needed,” Mr Campbell said.

“Few cities in Australia are progressing so rapidly as Townsville on so many fronts – few will be able to match its continuing growth in the future,” he said.

At that time, Kern Bros. Ltd had been operating for 21 years and had become one of Queensland’s most successful public companies, with group assets of $11.2 million.

By August 1977, Kern Bros. had a number of large projects under way, including the $27 million, 481 hectare Willows residential estate and the $8.4 million Sugarland Shoppingtown in Bundaberg. Construction on Caneland Shoppingtown, in Mackay, which was estimated to cost $12 million, was expected to begin later in the year, along with Stage 1 of Willows Shoppingtown in Townsville.

Regarding Westside Plaza, Mr Barry Paul, the Chairman and Managing Director of Kern Bros. believed that great credit was due to the AMP Society for “taking a good look at the investment potential around Townsville”.

“Few of the companies who claim to have the future of Australia at heart bother to look much further north than Brisbane,” Mr Paul said.

“We are naturally very proud that they decided upon the Westside Plaza at Mountview, Kirwan, as their first investment in shopping centres beyond the metropolitan area,” he said.

“The fact that the centre was fully leased, by Kern to reputable traders, as soon as it was announced last year, certainly provided the AMP investment people with reasonable grounds for confidence.”

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