$70m commercial development approval in Ballina
By MARY MANN
LOOK out Lismore, Ballina is about to usurp your position as the commercial hub of the Northern Rivers.
A $70 million bulky goods development has just been given the green light by Ballina Shire Council.
Once completed, it will provide about 250 locals with new jobs and is expected to fill the retail void between Coffs Harbour and Tweed Heads.
The local chamber of commerce has thrown its support behind the project, saying it will give the region a big economic boost.
Grant McLennan, managing director of Brisbane-based Macpro Properties, is behind the development, in partnership with Lismore's Steve Robinson and Lennox Head's Neale Holmes.
The trio said Ballina would overtake Lismore as the premier shopping centre once their 29,000-square-metre complex was built.
"It will bring people from all over the region to Ballina, and will give local business people the opportunity to secure a national franchise," he said.
For shoppers the 35-40 showrooms will give offer competitive choices, with known national outlets expected to move in and sell things like electrical goods, furniture, hardware, computer goods and floor coverings. There will also be a central coffee shop.
Mr McLennan, who is the son of Lismore real estate agent Robert McLennan, said research had been done into the development over the past three years.
"Detailed research and planning identified the need for a large-scale home-maker facility to accommodate furniture, electrical and other retailers," he said.
"There has been a demand here for a while, but there hasn't been the space."
But land in West Ballina offers the space to build the large showrooms, as well as offer 650 car parks.
And the developers have reached an agreement with the Roads and Traffic Authority to build a roundabout at the junction of Smith Drive and the Pacific Highway.
Traffic lights will be installed later, once the Ballina bypass has been built.
Ballina Chamber of Commerce secretary Bryan Marriott said the chamber had supported the development since the proposal went to the council in October last year.
"It will give a substantial injection of capital into the economy," he said.