Danny and Jill Russell are in the business of transformation, and the latest stage of their three-part Cadell Place project might be their most ambitious reworking yet.
Standing in an abandoned car yard complete with corrugated iron shed, right next to a cavernous former workshop in the throes of renovations, the developer couple paint a grand picture - a garden dining hub, flowing off the boutique marketplace which will fill the workshop, which will link through to site's the existing courtyard and businesses.
The vision is well and truly en route - a development application is pending council approval, designs have been drawn and a construction certificate is in the works.
The pair thrive off a challenge and say this industrial space, and all the work that has come with it, has been their biggest yet.
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"Danny enjoys the challenge of it, taking a space no one else will buy, a property that goes into the too hard basket, he's up for it," Jill said.
"I like the transformation of seeing an old rundown place like this reach its full potential," Danny said. "When I walked in, I saw that potential, not the current state. You just need a bit of vision, to have a bit of foresight."
It's not a novel concept of course. In metro areas abandoned warehouses have become the most chic sites for retail and hospitality playgrounds, notably the high-end restaurant hub created in the former industrial Tramsheds site in Sydney's Inner West.
What Danny and Jill have planned however is far more focused on Wagga, and what the city is missing - an all in one retail hub where small businesses can thrive by coming together.
Inside the former workshop, a huge shed formerly used for the cars needing repairs, will be a cluster of retail and dining options, with space for artists to sell and create work.
"In total, there will be about a dozen businesses, and we're convinced that for small businesses to survive we need to cluster together and work together," Danny said. "We want to become a one stop shop where you can get your hair done, get your makeup done, get some flowers, pick up some art, shop for retail or homewares or grab a bite to eat."
Businesses confirmed so far include Scooters flowers, a woodfired pizza business, an art retail space and workshop and a hole-in-the-wall coffee spot leading onto the garden planned to occupy for the current car yard, with hopes a hairdresser, beautician and bakery will also be a part of the mix.
"If we can cover off on those things and add some pop up things on the weekends we can create a thriving sort of complex," Jill said.
Outside in the former car yard will be the garden which will work as a family-friendly garden hub by day and be available for events and functions by night.
When the second stage is completed, with the pair still confident the space will be ready for customers by the end of 2021, they will start looking at stage three - an ambitious whiskey and gin distillery overlooking the Murrumbidgee River they have discussed with a potential operator.
"It will hopefully have an elevated deck looking out onto the river - the river is our selling point and you don't have to travel far to see where other businesses have engaged the river and our plans for this future development to engage that even more," Danny said.
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