‘It is finally here’: new CBD mall opens
After more than two years in the making, Invercargill’s new mall has welcomed its first customers.
Described by city leaders as the heart of the CBD, the first stage of Invercargill Central was formally opened yesterday by Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt and blessed by Ngai Tahu kaumatua Michael Skerrett.
Even before the doors opened, the buzz was all around, retailers working frantically to make everything ready to welcome their customers, while about two dozen people lined up at the door in Esk St to be part of the launch.
Sir Tim said he was excited, as the new development was looking good.
"It is finally here — through thick and thin and strange storms.
"I am overwhelmed by how people feel about it and how shopping became such a big part of our culture and we are celebrating that with a shopping mall."
Southland Business Chamber chief executive Sheree Carey said the opening was a major milestone for the city.
"It is finally great to have a heart in our CBD.
"The business opportunities here are incredible and we are welcoming anyone from out of town to seriously consider Invercargill as somewhere to come and set up shop," she said.
"It is looking fantastic."
That feeling was shared by Invercargill Central manager Kelvin Mooney, who compared the staged opening to a heartbeat.
"It feels like this is the AED [automated external defibrillator] shock for the heartbeat, really.
"We’re going to end up having a ... bigger and bigger heartbeat as we go through the stages — this is the start."
The first stage comprises 11,570sqm with 10 stores — Farmers, Glassons, Pascoes the Jewellers, 2degrees, Merchant 1948, Michael Hill, Pagani, Mister Minit, Mobile King and Amazon — plus covered car parking offering space for more than 300 vehicles.
Invercargill resident Liz Wyatt was one of the eager customers keen to have a first look at the mall.
"It is such a massive thing for Invercargill and it is so cool to be one of the first people to be here ... I am so impressed. It is looking amazing — the finishing and all the cool features in the mall."