Supermarket deal close after 14 years

Developer Gerald Rawson on the proposed supermarket site on Main Street, Merimbula.
Developer Gerald Rawson on the proposed supermarket site on Main Street, Merimbula.

After 14 years since the proposal was first put the deal that will facilitate development of a new supermarket, rumoured to be Coles, on the car park opposite Woolworths, Merimbula is getting close to being signed.

The development involves three parties, Club Sapphire, Bega Valley Shire Council and the Melbourne developer, Gerald Rawson  have yet to sign off   on the terms and conditions relating to the construction of a new public road to be located on the vacant land situated at the rear of the club. This road will provide access for cars, trucks and large vehicles servicing the supermarket by entering the site directly from sheltered left and right hand turns from Sapphire Coast Drive.

General manager Bega Valley shire Council Leanne Barnes said that the council  is still  in discussions with the developer on a number of items “but things are progressing”.

The News Weekly understands that once this agreement is signed, it signifies the formal start of development and a point of no return. Chairman of Club Sapphire, Gerry Hammond told a members information night on Monday, June 16 that it was expected to take place “in the very near future”.

In January a drilling rig was set up on the car park opposite Woolworths, Merimbula to undertake routine bore hole tests/surveys of the site.  It was agreed in order to facilitate the arrangement, the club and council would contribute to the cost of construction of the road.

Mr Hammond said that the club’s contribution. One third of the estimated cost, would be a between $400,000 and $500,000 and that in return the club would benefit from having a new road which would create access to vacant commercial development land at the rear of the club. He also said that there would be other indirect benefits to the club and community as a result of having a supermarket next to the facility.

As a part of negotiations on the road, the club’s land, which will be used for the road, will be “sold” to council for car park credits, reducing the club’s existing debt, and should the club decide to expand, the need for associated car parking would be partly reduced by the credits.

Ms Barnes said that once council finally agrees  it will then need to negotiate about the  interim car parking arrangements  when  it has  confirmation of a work start date and timelines to completion.

“Access to car parking over holiday periods has always been a key priority for council as it is critical for Merimbula and we will work with the developer on options such as keeping part of the site open over the Christmas break and also looking at other options in town to meet the parking shortfall  ie  the council library site and club land.  We will ensure that the community is kept abreast of these matters as they progress,” Ms Barnes said.


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