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New businesses are set to move into the Golden Centre as a long-time tenant gets ready to move out, and next door, at the Meridian Mall, one department store is set to shut and another says it plans to reopen next week, though its long-term future is in question.
Golden Centre mall director Jason LaHood said Timezone Family Entertainment had signed up for 750sq m of space at the former food court, and planned a fit-out exceeding $2 million.
Singapore company representatives were keen to invest in New Zealand after the country’s success in shutting down the Covid-19 pandemic, he said.
The future of Dunedin’s Kmart is less clear. It plans to reopen in the Meridian Mall on Thursday, according to its New Zealand website and a statement released by the company late last month, though speculation persists it is considering alternative sites.
The uncertainty comes at the same time as a final decision about closure looms for another large retailer at the mall, H&J Smith. An announcement is expected early next week.
Meanwhile, Mr LaHood said Jan Collins had retired and sold the Hype fashion shop after 30 years at the Golden Centre and the landlord was concluding a leasing arrangement with a new tenant.
It is understood Hype is moving to George St, but staff at the shop declined to comment yesterday.
Dunedin city councillor Jules Radich, who is also a director and shareholder of the Golden Centre, said the situation with H&J Smith and Kmart was distressing.
"Unfortunate experiments" in George St — including creating speed bumps and reducing the speed limit — were not helping, Cr Radich said.
However, Mr LaHood said free parking had brought people back to the central business district.
"We’ve done surveys of retailers and shoppers and they show people are coming into George St more often, because the parking is free," he said.
"They’re coming three or four times a week, rather than once. We’re hopeful the free parking will continue through winter."
Suits on Wall St owner Martyn Ballantyne said the market was tight for retailers but it was picking up.
"You can already see the lift. It’s slowly building."
Kmart’s most recent statement, issued last week, says the Dunedin shop remains closed while the chain awaits engineering advice.
The department store is known to have misgivings about seismic strengthening needed at the Meridian Mall.
H&J Smith has consulted with staff about plans to close its Dunedin, Mosgiel, Balclutha and Te Anau shops, and to downsize its Gore shop. Under the proposal, the Armoury Store in Dunedin and Outdoor World in Queenstown would also shut and the Take Note shop in Gore would move.
The Oyster Property Group manages the Meridian Mall. Its retail manager, Jennifer Andrews, said the group was working through rent relief arrangements with tenants.
"We have agreed abatements with some tenants and are in discussions with others."
The mall was a key part of Dunedin’s city centre.
"We have been pleased to see how customers are enjoying coming back to it since it reopened."
Kmart did not respond to requests for comment and other retailers at the mall declined to comment about uncertainty resulting from the current movements.