BUYING UP: New owners of City Centre Plaza Joe Baladi and George Shad rubbished claims of an impending closure.
BUYING UP: New owners of City Centre Plaza Joe Baladi and George Shad rubbished claims of an impending closure.

Fate of popular Rockhampton shopping centre revealed

RUMOURS of a City Centre Plaza closure have officially been put to bed.

Co-owners George Shad and Joe Baladi yesterday rubbished recent whispers as “100 percent not true” and instead revealed their plans for Rockhampton’s longstanding shopping centre.

Unconfirmed reports emerged online only a two weeks ago after word of the centre’s sale became public knowledge, striking fear among local tenants and shoppers.

“We bought the plaza on the basis that we are going to operate long term as is. It makes no sense, why would we buy something just to close it down?” Mr Baladi said.

Instead, the centre’s new owners said shoppers and retailers could expect a refurbished, modernised shopping plaza that will transform Rockhampton’s CBD.

“We’re always on the lookout for something we can really improve and add to. Rockhampton came along and we conferred that it was an indeed opportunity and it would allow us to add value to it,” Mr Shad said.

The Sydney-based businessmen acquired the centre under their family-owned company, SB Investments, following last month’s sale by previous owners Mirvac for an undisclosed price.

Mr Shad said room for development was plentiful in regional areas like Rockhampton.

“We see a big opportunity for growth in Rocky. We really believe that governments need to look after regional Australia, and we want to be part of that growth over the next few years.”

The investment comes as a boost for Rockhampton’s retail scene, with hundreds of locals set to be employed through a locals-first focus on contractors and centre management.

“It’s the right thing to do for Rockhampton, if we’re going to make income from here, we want to put the money back into the area as much as possible.”

The centre’s established reputation and current tenants were also big drawcards for the purchase.

“Target, Coles and other notable names were a big attraction. They are an important part of the complex.”

“You want great stores that are going to bring people in and they’re also a big drawcard for other potential businesses to come in.”

In the meantime, Mr Baladi said they expect around 6-12 months of refurbishments and renovations, and hopefully some new tenants.

“We’re really happy with what we’ve got, but we’re also looking to fill up the empty spaces Our aim is to in twelves months have the place filled.”

As for any specific details on their plans, the respective former lawyer and property developer remained tight-lipped.

“We’ve got a lot of things that’s are happening, but we can’t confirm much right now, it’s a case of watch this space.”