THERE’S only one thing that could improve the look of Leongatha’s Bair Street at the moment, according to Leongatha Business Association President Anthony Walls, and that’s if it was draped with a Melbourne premiership flag after Saturday’s grand final.

But he lifelong Demons supporter is as much up and about for the fantastic job the South Gippsland Shire Council and its contractors have done on the Leongatha shopping centre redevelopment as he is about his team’s chances on Saturday.

“It’s taken a long time, and it’s had its difficult days but when you look at the way Bair Street and the adjoining streets have come up after what the shire’s done, it’s all been worth it,” said Anthony Walls this week.

“It’s fantastic, especially seeing all the people out walking, stopping for coffees and lunch on the outdoor tables and meeting friends and all that. It’s great.

“Of course, we’ll really be up and firing after all the restrictions come off, but you can see what it’s going to be like.

“And the proof is in what’s happening in business here as well.

“Pretty much all of the vacant shops have businesses in them now with a few more to come.

“There’s a number of new businesses. We’ve got a Reject Shop coming in. There’s a Kebab shop, an Indian Restaurant, another coffee shop, a beautician, a new hair stylist, and cosmetics plus the exist traders are getting a boost as well.” Mr Walls said.

“The shire is also working on opening up some parking behind, in the railway yards, in an effort to take pressure off the carparking spaces close to the shops.”

Mr Walls said it was a pity the town had not been able to properly celebrate the reopening of Bair Street with the planned spring Daffodil Festival and street festival because of the COVID but he expected there would be a celebration and an official opening at a later stage.

“The important thing is that the project is finished and Bair Street and the other streets look fantastic and will only look better in the future.

“It’s already done a lot for trading and the whole look of the town.”

The only thing Anthony would like to see now is some long awaited Red and Blue celebrations as well.

“It’s pretty exciting, after waiting so long, to be in it and in with a real chance,” said Anthony Walls.

The only other thing that could make Bair Street even more successful is if local traders make every effort to park away from the street, especially on the busy days, so the shoppers can get best possible access to shops and businesses in Bair Street.

The scene of shoppers and visitors sitting out for coffee and lunch or strolling along the redeveloped Bair Street has been enough for several new business operators to commit to opening in the town, even at the height of the pandemic.

The new-look, pedestrian friendly Bair Street has already kicked a goal for shoppers and local traders after the redevelopment work was completed and the spring sunshine came out.