THE developer behind the long-awaited shopping centre at Estella has spoken candidly about the hold-ups for the coveted service.
It is a build that Wagga's northern suburbs have been assured will move forward, but almost a decade has gone by without any action on the corner of Avocet and Rainbow Drive.
Wagga businessman Stuart Webster said the project is shovel-ready, but the problem keeps coming back to the banks, which have been shifting the goalposts and preventing him from securing the cash required for the $12 million shopping complex.
About four years ago the supermarket was over the line, he said. A bank agreed to lend 70 per cent of the money required for construction and the development went out for tender. However, Mr Webster said the offer then suddenly had conditions attached and eventually fell through.
Since then, Mr Webster said the loan valuation ratio has dropped to 55 per cent, requiring the developer to front about $4.5 million in cash while the bank lends the difference in order for the project to move forward.
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Mr Webster is a prominent businessman in the city, already owning both the Lake Village and Turvey Tops shopping centres.
"Even with our track record the banks are just so cautious. Our supermarkets are incumbent - we have paid everything off," he said.
The other problem is that every bank objects to Mr Webster being both the developer and operator of the proposed shopping complex. He said he has tried - and is still trying - to get either a major or independent supermarket to become the operator once constructed, but there is no appetite.
"It is not an interest for them predominately due to the population in the catchment," he said. Mr Webster said the major supermarkets have acknowledged the growth, but will not consider entering the northern suburbs until 2030.
Mr Webster said there is a lot of commentary circulating around the northern suburbs calling for him to sell the land to another developer who can afford it. But, regardless of who owns the land, he said they will still have the same problem unless they can cover half the cost of the development in cash.
"No one is in a better position than us. We have the experience to do it ourselves, but the supermarkets are the ones not interested," he said.
Estella Progress Association president Mark Brown said there is a lot of misinformation coupled with a lack of action that has created frustration and severe doubt as to whether this critical infrastructure will ever be built.
Mr Brown said the proposed shopping complex was not only vital for the northern suburbs, but for the greater region.
"I realise it's only a six-minute drive from Estella to Gurwood Woolworths, but it is not about the length of the drive, but how many people are going to be doing that drive over the next 15 years with the projected population growth and no infrastructure to support it," he said.
"It's a lot of snapshot in time, Band-aid solutions that are happening."