The City of Armadale has scrapped a $335,000 proposal to revamp the Jull Street Mall in favour of a $70,000 security plan, but retailers have labelled the move a ‘slap in the face’ and a band-aid solution.
From November 1 until the end of January 2021, the city will hire two security guards to patrol the mall for 30 hours a week in a bid to address the ongoing crime issues plaguing the central shopping district and spend any remaining funds on the installation of festive decorations.
The former proposal to upgrade lighting, sound and seating in the mall had been endorsed by the city’s Corporate Services Committee just one week earlier, but members of the Reconnect Jull St Mall group raised concerns that the move was premature and could impact its million-dollar push to reopen the mall to one-way traffic and drive more foot traffic.
The group said that any further investment in the mall should be considered as part of the broader proposal to revitalise the mall, calling for the spending to be deferred on the grounds that it was not a cost-effective solution.
The following week, mayor Ruth Butterfield moved the alternate motion based on feedback from local stakeholders – a move that was supported unanimously by the council.
Reconnect Jull St Mall group members said they had not yet been advised of the details of the proposal, including how and when the security will operate, but that they did not believe it to be a long-term solution for the issues impacting the mall – which has just six operating businesses left.
“While Reconnect Jull Street supports investment in the Jull Street Mall, $70,000 for part-time security guards and Christmas decorations is another band-aid measure,” Dome Café owner Graeme Hill said.
“Hiring security guards may assist some people feel safer in the mall for the short period of time they are on duty, but it is not a long-term or cost-effective solution for the deteriorating mall.”
Fellow Reconnect Jull Street member Michael Facey echoed Mr Hill’s sentiments and said the move was a slap in the face to retailers already struggling to survive.
“The City of Armadale needs a plan to revitalise the mall, attract new shops to the space and bring shoppers back to the mall,” he said.
“By increasing the amount of people moving through the mall, you have more eyes on the street and natural surveillance.
“With many commercial rents in the mall being advertised at a 75 per cent discount and no new businesses wanting to operate in the current mall, how is a part time security team and Christmas decorations going to help bring back business and shoppers to the mall?”
Member for Armadale Tony Buti said while he was supportive of the City Views Concept, he felt something needed to be done about Jull Street Mall now to ensure business and consumer confidence.
“Clearly there are differing views, but it is my strong view that if we do not take action soon, the damage to businesses may be irreversible and the reputation of the city may be adversely affected,” he said.