MELVILLE Plaza is getting a $5 million facelift and while the redevelopment will bring new options for shoppers, it has also forced some existing store owners to pull up stumps.
Jubo Fashions, The Attadale Vet Clinic and specialty shop British Food to Go are among the stores leaving the Hawaiian-owned centre.
The centrepiece of the renovation is a new-look Coles supermarket featuring a market-style layout, in-store bakery, gourmet delicatessen, open-style butchery and extended fresh produce section.
Other upgrades include work to existing stores, the introduction of new retailers and alfresco dining opportunities, a community herb garden and a shaded playground.
While tenant turnover during any major redevelopment is to be expected, at least one store owner expressed frustration at Hawaiian’s management of the project.
British Food to Go owner Guy Onyon said he only found out about the redevelopment when surveyors turned up to measure his store in February.
“They told me that my shop and a number of others nearby were getting torn down in a few months’ time,” he said.
“I was on a six-month lease ending in April and although Hawaiian said they were working to find me a spot inside the new development, they never gave me any kind of guarantee.
“I was on the phone with them practically every week from then on trying to confirm I had a spot, but when it got to June and there was still no contract in place I decided to shut.”
Mr Onyon said operating a food import business with no long-term venue guarantee made it impossible to maintain his stock levels.
“I had $30,000 worth of food and was worried I could get shut down at a couple of weeks’ notice and a lot of it would go off,” he said.
“I feel like Hawaiian must have known about these redevelopment plans when I signed my lease last October and was just using me for the rent in the interim period.”
Hawaiian general manager (shopping centres) Alison Reid said discussions with new and existing tenants were ongoing.
“Melville Plaza currently has a mix of tenancies including short-term, casual licences and long-term leases,” she said.
“Depending on the individual arrangements, some retailers have left the centre, others will change location and new retailers will be introduced. Tenancy changes during a major refurbishment are part of creating a well-considered centre that will have real appeal to locals. It will be much more than just a shopping centre.”
HAWAIIAN confirmed an application had been made to Liquor Licensing to include a Cole’s Liquorland inside the new centre but would not comment on the need for an additional alcohol outlet on the site, which already houses a Dan Murphy’s.
McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth executive officer Julia Stafford said it was difficult to imagine the rationale for adding another liquor retailer to an area that already boasts two liquor barns within walking distance and at least two other smaller bottle shops within a 1km radius.
“Research shows strong links between the availability of alcohol in an area and the alcohol-related problems experienced there,” she said.
“There are good reasons to limit the density of liquor licences because more alcohol often means more problems.
“Relatively advantaged areas like Melville and Bicton are not immune to problems associated with alcohol which include immediate harms, such as domestic violence, and longer term harms, such as cancers.”
Ms Stafford’s comments follow the release earlier this year of a study into alcohol-related harm in WA electorates that found that Bicton was the fifth worst in Perth, with 415 police-recorded serious assaults between 2010-13.