Riverdale Village Town Centre has defied the challenging environment in becoming one of the only Shopping Centres in Australia to open amid the COVID-19 outbreak, bringing much-needed facilities to one of Melbourne’s newest and high-growth communities in Tarneit.
Fitzroys Shopping Centre Manager, Simone Talarico watched the centre come to life, right through from the construction process to last Wednesday’s opening.
“It is fantastic for the local community to have brand-new shopping facilities operational and new job opportunities given the unprecedented retail and economic environment,” Talarico said. “In the long-term Riverdale Village Town Centre will be a convenient and comprehensive focal point of lifestyle and shopping.”
The Centre is anchored by a full-line Coles supermarket and consists a total area of 7,295m2. Stores trading on opening day included Coles and Liquorland, Kangaroo Mobile Zone, One Stop Salon, Beauty Genesis, NewsXpress & Lotto, and halal Riverdale Quality Meats and Produce, which has external entry and has been trading since December.
Anytime Fitness, located on level two of the centre, with its own external entry, has also been trading up until the coronavirus restrictions were put in place. Tenants that are currently still fitting out and are to open in due course include Blue Hippo Laundromat, Bottlemart, Direct Chemist Outlet, a Medical Centre, Rajwadi Indian Cuisine, Smokin’ Joe’s Pizza & Grill and Riverdale Charcoal Chicken, among others.
“The local community now has access to a fully-stocked, brand-new Coles, and in the coming weeks, Direct Chemist Outlet and a Medical Centre that will be operated by GPs who have a comprehensive understanding of the region,” Talarico said.
Talarico and the Fitzroys Asset Management team had to navigate a number of issues in a fast-evolving global situation that has impacted every industry to ensure the Centre’s safe and successful opening.
“Given the coronavirus situation is continuously evolving, a number of the specialty stores, mainly on the external perimeter, had openings delayed as a lot of the construction equipment comes from overseas,” Talarico said.
“We opened on Wednesday 25 March with Stage 1 restrictions in place, and by Thursday morning Stage 2 restrictions were in effect, so nail salon Beauty Genesis were only able to open for one day, while Anytime Fitness have also had to temporarily close.” Talarico and her Fitzroys colleagues also had to ensure socially responsible practices were in place for the opening event.
“Together with anchor tenant Coles, we took a number of steps to mitigate risk in terms of numbers and ensure the 1.5-metre social distancing rule was followed,” she explained.
“Barricades were set up to create a queuing system through to the front of Coles and barriers to the main automatic doors”. “We had a structured entry system, whereby customers come into the Centre, collect a trolley at the start of the queue and then proceed to line up. By encouraging customers to take a trolley before entering the store, the trolley created a natural 1.5-metre distance between each customer.
“The Centre had additional security, as did Coles on the day, and we engaged with Wyndham Police who were only too happy to attend on the day to oversee the opening”, she said.
Talarico said customers were very complimentary on the Centre and its open, spacious design, as well as having a fully-stocked Coles during a period in which a number of kitchen and bathroom staples across the rest of Melbourne haven’t been immediately available.
“Almost every customer who entered Coles on the opening day left with toilet paper, handwash and sanitiser, rice and other products that have currently been hard to find elsewhere,” she said. The opening of the Coles supermarket alone has created 149 new local jobs in the City of Wyndham, as well as opportunities for 40 team members transferring from other Coles stores across Melbourne, bringing the team total to 189″, she said.
For almost 109 new recruits joining the team, this will be their first time entering the workforce. Customers will also find an in-store bakery with flatbread baked daily, a gourmet delicatessen featuring a range of halal meat, a scoop and weigh bar, and an extensive fresh produce area with fruit and vegetables, some being sourced from local Werribee farmers.
“Tarneit is in the heart of the western suburbs growth corridor, and is playing a central role in accommodating a large portion of Melbourne’s nation-leading population growth,” Talarico said.
According to population research house .id, Tarneit’s current population of about 40,000 is expected to grow to 92,000 by 2027. Talarico said local operators have shown they are keen to be at the heart of the western suburbs growth story, servicing their local communities in an environment that will attract activity throughout the day and into the night.
The Town Centre is part of the Riverdale Village master planned community, developed by YourLand and APD Projects.