Chadstone persists as an interest of mine, given its convenient location. The constant construction has a certain appeal to me too…
Originally here at XBOP I shared my thoughts of Chadstone, which was and is pure fantasy. A follow-up article focused on the transportation impact of the latest development project just before the construction commenced in 2014. Now, some two years later, the project nears completion. The photos included with this article were taken on 26 June and 18 July 2016.
At least four distinct launch/delivery milestones are clear from the public view:
- Multi-storey car-park & bus depot/interchange (opened 5 August 2015)
- Opening of Target on the Lower Ground (10 September 2015)
- Office block completion (September 2016)
- Retail complex (13 October 2016)
In late June I was standing on the rooftop level of the Coles car-park, and took the opportunity to take the above photo along with this following one.
These views, apart from the pleasant change of weather, show us how near to completion the glass roof-top was at the time. In the distance of the photo above you can see the external cinema area is fully defined and completed. The curved roof-line reminds me very much of another Melbourne landmark – Southern Cross station. The number one question on my mind, like most people is invariably “when does Chadstone open?” From the all the research I have been doing, the answer according to this Herald Sun report is 13 October 2016.
Visit: Sunday 26 June 2016
It is worth sharing a little more detail on my experience at the end of June and what I was able to see. I normally park in the Coles car-park and for a change, I intentionally drove to the roof-top level to get an optimal view. The previous renovation and construction works led to the creation of the separate building which currently houses retailers Kathmandu, Autobarn and Petbarn. As a result of that development, additional roof-top parking was made accessible from the Coles car-park via an overhead bridge connection. It was on this roof-top that I began exploring and admiring the construction work at both ends of the complex. Unfortunately, the main retail complex that is undergoing development is completely off-limits to the public and we can only appreciate it from afar. When I was exploring the office towers located at Chadstone Place, I did innocently ask if there was any opportunity to admire the development work from the towers only to be politely turned away. There was one opportunity, but I felt that to venture into the fire escape external stair-well would have been a step too far given the whole building was effectively private property.
Visit: Monday 18 July 2016
In mid July I made another visit to Chadstone, this time to check out the development works where the new standalone office building is located at the south-eastern end of the complex. I explored the new car-park areas closer to Myer and the new office building. It was harder to capture nice photographs which is why this section of the article is a little descriptive. Over the last few years, up until the construction works in 2014, I would visit Chadstone occasionally on a Sunday afternoon, after church. Since I was approaching the complex from the south-east direction, Princes Highway was the best access route and the Myer underground car-park was my favoured location. It is this same car-park that I visited in July, and discovered first-hand the new changes to this part of Chadstone.
The most obvious changes are the re-calibration of the roads and access points to Chadstone at the south-eastern corner of the site, where the new office building and future hotel are to be located. The site of the new office building begins underground with a separate section of the underground car-park extending the original Myer multi-level car-park. It would appear that this future car-park, by virtue of its physical separation from the entrance ramps, is to be a more private use car-park, available for the office block.
A new upper ground level car-park is adjacent to Myer and the staircase to the right of the entrance (when leaving Chadstone) has been extended to reach this new floor of car-park. At the time of my visit, the car-park had just started operation and was publicly accessible. While exploring the car-park itself, I was able to speak briefly to one of the security guards who mentioned that the office fit-out was commencing the following week (25 July onward) which also indicated that the final stages of development were well under way.
To date, only the single office block has been constructed and the second hotel building is still yet to commence construction. This future hotel will create the first mix-zoned use of the land and reintroduce a residential purpose that was once present in the original use of the land: Convent of the Good Shepherd. During the planning period of 2012-2014, local concerns were constantly raised with the height and shadow cast by the hotel tower, which may have influenced the current approach to delay construction of this stage for now.
A Historical Reflection of Chadstone
According to the historical record of the shopping centre, it was in the 1980s and early 1990s when Chadstone Place and Chadstone Corner were added, effectively doubling the amount of space available for leasing. At the time, the centre design was very well thought out and multi-storey car-parking was constructed as part of the buffer and boundary between the property boundaries and the shopping centre proper. This initial design has payed off ever since in the way it has ensured the local residents are minimally impacted by construction that has tended to be focused in the central part of the property.
For people of my generation, having grown up in the 1980s, we have directly benefited from the ongoing expansion of Chadstone. When the first 8-cinema opened, it featured eight screens and was an ideal pastime for us school kids. In part, the constant expansion of the shopping centre since the 1980s has parallel our transition from children to adulthood. As a primary school-aged kid, I recall the distinct atmosphere of the original Chadstone mall with fountains and red-colour brick flooring. The mall had been renovated to enclose the open Garden Plaza. The late 1980s and early 1990s saw the mall expand rapidly, first by introducing Target,Coles and then the Loop Mall – all added on to create the circular mall. Whilst the earlier Chadstone Corner expansion introduced the first upstairs food court, it was the 1990s expansion of the Loop Mall which introduced the second food court where I spent many weekend lunchtime.
During my high school years of the late 1990s the original Myer department store was demolished and the familiar double-storey retail wing that we know today was constructed, opening in 1998. This major renovation saw Myer lose its exclusive rights to the centre as David Jones joined the growing centre. The progressive expansion has always been met with various levels of resistance from locals, but each time their concerns have been addressed and worked through satisfactorily. The biggest challenge that was well publicised and reported on was the Middle Rd expansion which took place in the mid to late 2000s. As part of this effort, a concerted effort in public relations and communication was undertaken, with the advent of the Chadstone Development community website. Whilst this website is still operating, the engagement and information cycle has changed in recent years since the 2008 works was completed.
2017: Legoland Discovery Centre
As per my interest in Lego, news that Australia’s first ever Legoland Discovery Centre will be opening at Chadstone is a source of major excitement for me. With just 15 such centres in the world, Chadstone’s entrance into this league further reinforces the retail complex’s world-class status as a premiere destination.
The concept of a Legoland Discovery Centre is similar to the bigger scale theme parks but smaller in size. Comprising a multi-mixture of indoor, outdoor and interactive features, the existing information available on such experiences is that the stores are designed to entertain children of ages 3-10 years for up to three hours. One interesting fact published here is that ADULTS must be accompanied by a child of up to the age of 17 years in order to attend. Note the order and emphasis – all children are welcome, but for adults to visit, they can only do so if they are accompanied by a child! This kind of rule makes me wonder how someone like myself will get to explore the discovery centre…
According to existing reports, construction of the centre is clearly aligned to a separate later launch, and the opening is scheduled for the Autumn quarter of 2017, instead of late 2016 with the rest of the new development. The 2800 square metre space that the centre will occupy is expected to be located next to or near the cinema entrance, which has the potential complementary effect of enabling adults to drop the kids off to play whilst they go and watch a mature audience oriented movie. Given the indicative size, described by the Sydney Morning Herald as the “equivalence of 30 homes”, it is expected that Legoland will occupy a very prominent and obvious portion of the upper floor space, where all patrons to Chadstone’s northern retail district will be able to spot it very easily.
Chadstone has always been a favourite shopping centre experience for me. Since 2008 when Apple first opened its doors, Chadstone had already locked in its reputation for me. For a number of years, Chadstone has held a very dear place in my heart, and it has been part of a dream and desire I was given a number of years ago. I do pray that one day I will get to work and spend more of my time at a place like Chadstone and given the presence now of both Apple and Lego, it sure is a place I intend to spend more time at in the future!