DFO shopping centre starts transformation

April 30, 2016

Nick Dalton | The Cairns Post                                                          

A major transformation of the DFO Cairns shopping centre is under way as its new owners seek to improve the value and attraction of the Westcourt property.

Sentinel Property Group managing director Warren Ebert has revealed a wide-ranging plan to make the centre a key shopping destination for both residents and tourists. He told the Weekend Post that:

  • Big box retailers wanted to build stand-alone premises on the Mulgrave Rd boundary.
  • Operators were lining up to operate a childcare centre on vacant land on the western boundary.
  • New tenants were being signed up.
  • Extensive market researching of customers who did not shop at DFO Cairns.
  • Establishing a VIP lounge for tourist customers.
  • Fresh fruit and produce stalls outside Coles supermarket.
  • New indoor-outdoor dining offerings.
  • A new highly experienced centre manager to be appointed.

Mr Ebert said the group believed that the $39.7 million paid for the 8.15ha property was a bargain with the replacement cost of the land and buildings valued at $140m. He said work had started immediately repairing driveways and parking areas, painting outside furniture and new signs, especially directional. Mr Ebert said DFO would tap into the growing tourist market with a VIP tourist lounge for those who had booked out of their hotels and needed somewhere to store luggage while they shopped.  Tenants that appealed to Chinese customers would be pursued. He said currently they only visited Ralph Lauren and Royal Doulton and then left the centre.

The former gym area near the Dick Smith store would be turned into an indoor-outdoor dining precinct. Mr Ebert said big box retailers wanted to build their own premises fronting Mulgrave Rd.

He said shoppers who did not visit DFO would be surveyed to find out why. “We are installing free Wi-Fi to increase the dwelling time,” Mr Ebert said. Mr Ebert said the group planned to spend about $10m on the centre in the next year.

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