The worst kept secret in Nowra is set to become a reality with Bunnings to move further south to the former and previously unopened Masters’ site.
The company has confirmed it will open in the temporary location behind Hungry Jacks and the Shell Fuel Coles Express convenience store and Subway outlet and is expected to open in May.
Speculation the hardware giant would be moving has been rife ever since Bunnings lodged a $27.8 million development application for a new complex with Shoalhaven City Council in June last year.
The company has remained tight lipped about a possible alternative operating site saying it was reviewing its options for a temporary store location while its new $27.8m complex was constructed.
But perhaps the biggest hint or perhaps confirmation was delivered when the former blue and white Masters’ building on the Princes Highway, was set for a change when it was repainted green, predominantly Bunnings’ colour.
Bunnings area manager Rebecca James said conversion and reformatting works were currently underway and progressing as planned at the new temporary Nowra site at 190-198 Princes Highway.
“The current Bunnings Warehouse Nowra will close for redevelopment once the temporary warehouse opens in May,” she said.
“Our temporary site will feature a larger tool shop, nursery, three kitchen and two bathroom displays, nursery and a bigger landscape yard than the current store.”
She said team members from the existing warehouse would transfer to the temporary store and be joined by a number of new team members.
“Construction of the new Bunnings Warehouse in Nowra is due to start mid-year with completion in late 2020,” she said.
“Once complete, the new warehouse will stand at over 17,000 square metres allowing us to offer an even wider range of products to our customers.
“We look forward to continuing to provide the local Nowra community with the widest range of home improvement products backed up by the best service.”
Bunnings’ proposal will see the complex’s footprint grow by almost two and a half times its current size.
It is planned for the complex to take up the whole site, covering the current car park, with parking to be extended from the current 225 spaces to 428 spaces under the building.
The proposal will see a new Bunnings warehouse (hardware and building supplies warehouse) including garden centre above an undercroft car parking level.
It is estimated the project will result in 470 jobs during construction and 200 (full-time and part-time) jobs once the new building is completed.
Construction of the new Bunnings Warehouse in Nowra is due to start mid-year with completion in late 2020.Bunnings area manager Rebecca James
The new design will see the current complex layout on the site flipped, with the timber trade area moving to the south of the property, and an outdoor nursery and bagged goods canopy moving to the northern end.
The construction also includes a café, office, amenities, service road/ramps and loading areas. The café, as well as the offices and other staff amenities areas are located at the northern end of the main warehouse floor and in a mezzanine level above.
As well as 428 car parking spaces the parking level includes 12 accessible spaces. Lift, stair and travelator access is provided between the parking and ground floor levels.
There has also been plenty of speculation about what might go into the former unused Masters Building, with a development application for the proposed change of the use of existing building to a multi tenancy centre including bulky goods premises and an ancillary café lodged with council in July 2017.
Sydney company Aurrum Holdings lodged the $2.7 million application for the 2.817ha site.
It is proposed the 12,977 square metre Masters Home Improvement store could be split into seven separate stores, the biggest taking up half of the floor space, 6000 square metres.
The second biggest store is 1976 square metres, while there will be two of between 828 and 848 square metres, one at 712 square metres, another 607 and the smallest 485 square metres. There will also be a small cafe with seating.
The original development also had 329 car parking spaces.
The rumours quickly started flying as to what business would fill the stores with the likes of Super Amart Furniture, JB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys and Anaconda all linked with the complex.
There was even talk that Spotlight, which relocated from the Nowra CBD to the former Good Guys store at South Nowra in 2016, could also move into the complex.