Bondi View

Free Eastgate parking in the balance

Eastgate Shopping Centre / Photo: supplied

The owners of Eastgate Shopping Centre will meet with Waverley Council on September 3, with a view to addressing parking fees at the Bondi Junction shopping centre.

For the past three decades, the first hour of parking at the centre has been free under an agreement between the centre’s owner, Industry Superannuation Property Trust (ISPT), and Council. However, the agreement has expired.

Sam Curry, Investment Manager of ISPT, said they were currently working under a pre-existing agreement.

“When we purchased the centre 30 years ago, that agreement was already in place with the previous owner – so we inherited that agreement,” he said. “It is not an agreement we made.”

Mr Curry said that the first hour free parking was being exploited by some locals, who were not even patronising the centre.

“We have been subsidising people who don’t even use the shopping centre, who are parking there and shopping in Spring St or Ebley St.”

Mr Currie said ISPT would discuss all options with Council on September 3, including the possibility of the company continuing to subsidise free parking.

The Centre has recently undergone an extensive facelift, including major improvements to the Centre’s amenities, including a new parent’s room as well as new access to levels five and seven of the car park, and an upgrade of all pedestrian ramps that allows all four retail levels to be fully accessible by car and foot.

A spokesperson for Council said: “Under a 30-year-old agreement, [ISPT] has been contributing towards the provision of free parking for the first hour.

“Council has established it can bear some of the cost until the end of January 2014. For this reason, shoppers will need to pay $1 for the first hour from September 1 2013 while Council continues to try to find another solution. If another solution isn’t found, the fee may need to increase to $2 from 31 January 2014.”

The spokesperson said a number of options would be tabled at the upcoming meeting, including ISPT bearing the full cost of free first hour parking; a parking validation scheme whereby retailers reimburse Council; shoppers paying $2 for first hour parking without being reimbursed by ISPT or the retailers; and Council covering the full cost of free first hour parking.

But the spokesperson said Council wanted to avoid shoppers paying the full amount, or ratepayers having to foot the bill.

“Council has therefore been in discussions with ISPT for some time to encourage them to continue to contribute, and is also entering into discussions with the retailers about whether they would be willing to contribute through a parking validation shoppers scheme.”

Eastgate Shopping Centre houses a Coles supermarket, Kmart, Harris Farm Markets, Reject Shop, 22 specialty shops, and a brand new Aldi supermarket.

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