AILSA Brown, the owner of largely vacant shops, located at 37 to 43 Bair Street, has a problem.
But then again so does the South Gippsland Shire Council.
Mrs Brown wants to fill her shops.
And they want to revitalise the Leongatha shopping centre, specifically Bair Street, to develop a connection between the shopping centre and the railway precinct, and to establish a community hub and library in an easily accessible place in town.
And between them they may have a solution.
That’s of course if the council is prepared to take Mrs Brown’s proposal, put to the council at a public presentation session last Wednesday.
And it appears that they might at least be prepared to flesh out the details further.
“Good timing,” said the Mayor Cr Lorraine Brunt, with the council in the last throes of preparing its 2018-19 budget and still looking for an option for the Leongatha Library and community hub after the Leongatha RSL went cold on the idea of exchanging real estate.
“Thanks for the presentation,” said Cr Meg Edwards.
“I’d be keen to see how it progresses and it’s good for us to know your intentions as the owner of the site.”
“I have a great deal more to say,” Mrs Brown said.
The proposal would involve the shire leasing the 1563m2 available at 37 to 43 Bair Street (formerly Best and Less) for a library, info centre, community centre, exhibition space, meeting rooms, workshops, café and possibly the Leongatha Community House as well.
“Modern libraries aren’t book warehouses anymore, they’re a vibrant hub of community activity,” she said.
“There is strong support for the idea of the library as a community hub or piazza co-located with …a café or other traffic generating commercial enterprise. Locating a community hub in Bair Street will located a large number of people in Bair Street on a daily basis this increasing commercial activity in the street (Municipal Precinct Study page 35).”
Mrs Brown said such a development would lead to the revitalisation of the whole shopping centre, would solve the council’s accommodation problems at minimal cost and also help unlock the potential of the railway precinct.
We’re like to hear a lot more about this idea.