Geelong council candidate George Ballas says Target building could house City Hall operations

GEELONG council is being urged to consider moving into Target’s national headquarters as the retailer prepares to leave the city next year.

Brownbill ward candidate George Ballas said he would call for a feasibility study into moving City Hall’s operations into Target’s North Geelong base if he is elected next month.

The Geelong Advertiser revealed on Saturday that the council was progressing a plan to build a new $100 million high-rise building in the CBD.

It has chosen a site — an existing car park at 137 Mercer St — and is eyeing a mid-2022 completion to avoid signing new leases on its biggest properties on Brougham and Corio streets.

The issue will be considered by the council’s administrators at a public meeting on Wednesday night.

But Mr Ballas said the council could potentially avoid the massive financial outlay — and increased levels of debt — by moving into the Thompson Rd complex when Target vacates it.

“All it would need is a bit of a refit. You could even lease it,” he said.

On-site parking, an existing bus service and proximity to the North Geelong train station are among its advantages, Mr Ballas said.

“It would create a bit of stimulus for the northern suburbs as well.”

Target has hosted more than 900 workers at its Geelong operations centre, with the council hosting 858 workstations across 10 existing central locations.

The retailer is leaving Geelong to establish their national base at William’s Landing, which is about 20km west of central Melbourne.

Their new purpose-built eight-storey building is expected to be completed in late 2018.

 

Geelong’s administrators will tonight consider advancing the Mercer St plan, including more analysis of the necessary size and design of the building.

However the incoming council will have to support the plan, which will require substantial investment beginning in the 2018-19 year.