Unlike many of its nearest neighbours, the future of the Monash Shops is looking up after a recent purchase.
The precinct is currently home to a small Chinese takeaway, a tattoo parlour and a vet. But the large supermarket which occupied much of the space closed about seven years ago has sat vacant ever since.
It’s become rundown, has been extensively vandalised, and is no longer viable.
About two months ago, the block was purchased by a pair of brothers who plan to completely revamp what’s there, demolish the existing building and put in a state-of-the-art childcare centre to cater for up to 120 children.
The pair already operate LillyPilly Early Education Centre in Gordon.
The development application for the project shows the new 1035 square metre building will cost $3.5 million. The development will include the provision of 46 car parks.
No further variations to the lease are required for a childcare centre.
One half of the duo behind the project is builder Daniel Hall.
He stressed he and his brother Tom won’t be opening or constructing the early childhood centre for some due to ongoing staff shortages in the sector.
Mr Hall said it’s clear local shopping precincts with supermarkets in Tuggeranong are not working, but he doesn’t think similar issues will plague the childcare offering.
The site is close to both Tuggeranong and Woden, accessible by car and public transport. It’s also near a local aged care home and primary school, which Mr Hall hoped would help foster intergenerational connections.
It’s a unique thing for a builder to be not only the one constructing the centre but also operating it.
But Mr Hall said their experience at the Gordon facility has shown them how rewarding it is to provide childcare.
‘We’ve also noticed that a lot of the early childhood centres in South Canberra are getting older,” he said.
“We have the ability to create better facilities because I am a builder … we want this to be state-of-the-art.”
They may also consider adding a cafe to the precinct.
Transport and City Services Minister Chris Steel was questioned earlier this week about whether the government was still planning to deliver upgrades to the Monash Shops as part of a broader program of shopping centre works.
Mr Steel said community consultation would need to occur before any shop upgrades as experience had shown community members often had very different views on what they would like to see.
“We will consult with the community on what they would like to see and it could be quite different depending on the changed circumstances from a retail precinct to an early childhood centre,” he said.
“If there’s a live application before the public upgrades, we will obviously consider that, but there will be a clear demarcation between public and private land.”