Darwin's retail market to get a boost due to new retail developments

Darwin's retail market to get a boost due to new retail developments
Darwin's retail market to get a boost due to new retail developments

The retail segment in Darwin in 2017 will experience its greatest shake up for many years when not one but two new regional shopping centres will open their doors for business, according to Herron Todd White’s latest report.

The property valuation firm says that Gateway is located on the highway on the fringe of Palmerston CBD, 18 kilometres south-east of Darwin.

This is a joint venture project between the Coombes Property Group (with local connections) and Challenger, being constructed by Hutchinsons.

It will offer a Woolworths, Big W, cinema complex and over 100 specialties and is expected to open mid-year.

Also expected to open mid-year is Coolalinga Village, located in the Darwin rural area 25 kilometres south-east of Darwin on the opposite side of the track from a large Woolworths-based complex.

Coolalinga Village is being developed by Gwelo, a long-standing Darwin developer and will be anchored by Coles and K-Mart.

There is already a fast food outlet and a service station on the site, but the main development will accommodate additional specialties with further stages already planned.

“We will therefore move from a situation where Darwin’s main growth corridor to the south-east has been under serviced by retail for many years to a situation where Palmerston and rural area residents will be spoilt for choice.

Not only will these two major centres be an option, but also new smaller centres at Bakewell, Rosebery, Bellamack and Zuccoli which are already trading or, in the case of Zuccoli, will be trading soon.

When you add to this the existing Palmerston Shopping Centre and Oasis Shopping Centre, the options are quite wide,” the report stated.

The effects on the rental market for retail space remain to be seen but the increased competitive tension between all these centres does result in some choices for tenants which have not always been available in the past.

"This may place some downward pressure on rents however if each centre can attract sufficient patronage this may not be the case," the report warned.

Certainly there will be some effect on Casuarina, which is currently Darwin’s dominant retail precinct.

"Casuarina is disadvantaged by its location in the northern suburbs which is close to the hospital and university but somewhat removed from the south-east urban growth corridor.

Casuarina is already re-inventing itself as a destination rather than just a mall retailer, with a new restaurant and entertainment precinct," the report advised.

At present, anecdotal evidence is pointing to population decline across Darwin and unless a major employment driver emerges soon, then this population decline will inevitably result in reduced trading for all retailers and difficulties for each centre attracting sufficient patronage.

“We are seeing weakness across all property segments in Darwin at the moment and the challenge will be to ensure sufficient population growth to ensure the viability of all these new outlets as well as existing facilities,” the report stated.

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