As the dust settles on the $73 million deal that saw a retail property giant acquire Wagga’s Sturt Mall, shoppers are wondering the huge sale will mean for one of the city’s largest retail hubs.
The SCA Property Group acquired the retail hub last week from the Dexus Wholesale Property Fund, who bought the centre in April, 2014 for $61.2 million.
Just two months before Dexus acquired the property, Wagga City Council approved a development application for a series of major upgrades and alterations to the centre with an estimated cost of more than $33 million.
The upgrades approved in 2014 would have resulted in an additional 8175 square metres of floor space, 24 new tenancies, and 68 new parking spaces for the centre.
Now, more than four years later, that development application is nearing expiry, leaving shoppers wondering whether the mall will ever receive its upgrades.
Property manager Ashleigh King of Knight Frank, which has been contracted by the mall’s new owners to manage the retail hub locally, said the centre’s new owners would likely make some changes, but could not confirm whether any major developments would play out on the site.
“Knight Frank Wagga Wagga has taken over management of the centre, and there will be some small changes in the short term,” Ms King said.
"It's too early to tell about any future development plans, however, we will be managing the centre and its tenancy mix to ensure convenience and amenity for customers and the community."
Last week’s sale injected a boost of confidence into Wagga’s commercial property market, which has been under the eye of out-of-town investors in recent months.
Raine and Horne’s Craig Tait, who has worked in the commercial property world for 15 years, said he was still getting a lot of inquiries from interstate commercial investors.
“As far as occupied commercial investment property goes, we're still getting really strong demand, and we're probably low on stock at the moment, so the demand is outweighing the stock for lease properties,” Mr Tait said.
“I think the Sturt Mall’s sale does reflect a lot of confidence in the Wagga market and the local economy –yields are stronger out here than in the capital cities, so some of those larger investors are looking to the country to secure a higher yield.”