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Invercargill's New Mall

Published
February 10, 2024
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JUST the other day, I visited Invercargill’s newest addition to its downtown shopping precinct.

The downtown area now has a modern mall called Invercargill Central, which opened in 2022, on the block bounded by Esk, Dee, Tay and Kelvin Streets. It also has widened footpaths and a makeover of Esk Street into a shared space.

Esk Street looking eastward, showing Invercargill Central on the right with the preserved façade of the Coxhead Building between new frontages

The same spot as in the photo above, but looking westward to a small park on the other side of Dee Street

Esk Street, a little east of the photos above and looking eastward once more, with more of Invercargill Central on the right

Dee Street (State Highway 6)

Don Street

Inside Invercargill Central, by the Reading Cinema. The dining area is called Esk Eats.

Another view of Esk Eats

Here’s a video of the mall:

Invercargill Central has more than 650 carparks, normally free for the first 30 minutes though you have to pay after that, plus EV chargers.

It’s a scheme that has been a long time coming.

In the 2010s, earthquake risk, and the cost of refurbishment, were given as the reasons why the old buildings on the block needed to be demolished.

Here’s a video of me walking around the area and looking at the frontages before the block was demolished. The buildings across the road, which I wonder about at the end, were not part of the scheme.

In 2019, I published a post called ‘From Heritage, to Glass and Girders? Notes on Invercargill’s Downtown Renewal Scheme’, in which I was critical of the redevelopment of a whole block of the downtown area for the proposed Invercargill Central scheme.

I included the following map:

Proposed demolition, downtown Invercargill, indicated by red X inside red boundaries (old Bank of New South Wales at south-western corner indicated by BNSW to be spared though part of project area. Reading Cinemas and Kelvin Hotel are outside project area.) Location of block-spanning Cambridge Place Arcade also indicated. Name of Tay St also added (Google assigns Tay and Dee streets the names of rural highways to which they connect, and this can also make Street View confusing). Imagery ©2019 CNES/Airbus, DigitalGlobe, Map data ©2019 Google, MapData Sciences Pty Ltd, PSMA. North at top.

And a quote from an environmental impact assessment:

The plans evaluated in this assessment will see the retention of the Bank of New South Wales, incorporation of four heritage façades (the Southland Times at 67 Esk Street, Coxhead’s Building at 31–35 Esk Street, Thompson’s Building at 18 Kelvin Street, and Fairweather’s Building at 58 Tay Street), and the demolition of all other buildings within the project area.

I wondered whether the whole thing was really an excuse to demolish a block in order to fit in masses of extra car parking downtown, and queried whether the additional car parking to go in the mall complex could not go above the nearby railway land.

One thing that strikes me about the new mall as rather surprising is that it does not have a supermarket: at least not as yet. I always thought that a supermarket was a fairly essential requirement for a mall.

There is a Pak’n’Save supermarket diagonally across the road at 95 Tay Street, a Countdown supermarket at 172 Tay Street, and SuperValue Plaza at 103 Yarrow Street two blocks to the east and three to the north, so it is not as if the downtown is short of supermarkets.

Maybe Invercargill Central is seen as complementary to the supermarkets: instead, it has Farmers, a department store, as its anchor. There is also a JB Hi-Fi store, as well as a lot of boutiques.

So far, stages one and two of the mall’s construction have been completed. Stage three will include, apparently, a bowling alley and a Timezone family entertainment centre.

I have another post about Invercargill, called ‘City of Museums: Invercargill and its Port of Bluff . . . ', which I have just republished with some more pictures of Bluff.

And there’s also more about Invercargill in one of my books, The Sensational South Island, on sale on this website a-maverick.com.

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