By Chris Nicholls

BENDIGO: Clive Peeters has opened its new Bendigo store after the Rocklea Homemaker Centre it occupies finally commenced operations after a troubled gestation period.

The store, which had its official opening last Thursday, has been trading “well” in its first few days, according to store manager Jim Santas.

“It’s been a successful opening,” he said. “Everyone’s responded ell to it, so it’s been good,” he said.

The store, one of the first to open in the new centre, occupies the largest portion of its 12,873 sqm and will be joined by Fantastic Furniture in August and up to 15 other stores.

The centre has had a troubled re-birth, taking nearly seven years to reach this stage after it was razed by fire in June 2001.

According to the Bendigo Advertiser newspaper, the site lay vacant for five years after the fire after an initial proposal to re-develop the site into a 25,000 sqm site by Queensland-based HRA Holdings was rejected.

The City of Greater Bendigo then approved the first stage of the current proposal in late 2006, with an expectation store would begin trading by October 2007. However, it took until last week for trade to commence.

According to the Advertiser, site developer Phileo is also looking to build a second stage with a further 5630 sqm space in the future.