Property developers have demanded changes to the city’s outdated building code to awaken the sleeping giant of Wagga residential real estate – the main street.
When council last reviewed the Development Control Plan six years ago real estate developers were effectively banned from building new apartments above Fitzmaurice and Baylis street stores.
At a time of record retail vacancies along the shopping strip, Wagga real estate magnate Richard Fitzpatrick has revealed a string of main street building sales have fallen over once would-be buyers became aware of the ban on “shop-top” apartments.
Mr Fitzpatrick labelled the restrictions “retrograde” and called on council to unshackle the potential of Wagga’s beating heart.
“The Mill is a great example of commerce at ground level with residential above, but it was only allowed after special considerations,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.
“Fitzmaurice Street has been transformed by restaurants and cafes and the street is buzzing; well this is the next step in gentrification.”
Wagga councillor Paul Funnel has backed the calls, claiming online shopping had stymied the chances of the main street returning to its former glory based on commerce alone.
“I’m not talking down Wagga businesses, but with the rise of the internet we'll never refill all the shops with retails outlets,” Cr Funnell said.
“Plenty of people would love to live in the heart of the city and it will foster a cosmopolitan atmosphere.”