Wyndham council buys two Watton Street sites

The Bridge Hotel. Photo: Damjan Janevski

Wyndham council has splashed out more than $10.5 million on two iconic Watton Street sites as part of a plan to rejuvenate Werribee’s CBD.

In recent weeks, the council has purchased the Bridge Hotel site at the top end of Watton Street for $5.4 million and the neighbouring Werribee Toyota site for $5.15 million.

Wyndham council chief executive Kelly Grigsby said the acquisitions tied in with the council’s plans to redevelop three other sites within the Werribee CBD.

Earlier this year, the council advertised for expressions of interest for works to be carried out at the Riverbend carpark in Comben Drive, the Gateway carpark on Synnot Street and the new Cherry Street carpark on Kelly and Jellicoe streets.

The council, which owns all three parking lots, is envisioning a mix of shops, restaurants, cafes, apartments and multi-storey car parking across the sites.

Ms Grigsby said the Werribee Toyota site would be used as an at-grade carpark while the three “catalyst” sites were under development.

She said land at the rear, and possibly side, of the Bridge Hotel would also be used for parking in the short term.

The council will also appoint new management for the Bridge Hotel to revitalise the venue’s offerings.

Ms Grigsby could not confirm how many new carparks would be made available across the two sites, saying both sites would be assessed post-settlement.

“Council’s vision has been to invest within the CBD of Werribee to transform it into the capital of the west,” she said.

“We’ve got a range of sites out to the market at the moment that we’re referring to as catalyst sites, and the purpose for that is to realise the potential for Werribee’s CBD as a place where people will actually reside. [We want] cafes, retail, city-apartment-type living.

“The two sites we’ve procured are going to initially provide some additional car-parking options while we start to redevelop some of the other sites.

“We acknowledge that parking has been an ongoing issue in the CBD itself, which is why part of this strategy is about ensuring we don’t have a net loss of car-parking.

“Our focus is on renewing the Werribee CBD, focusing on the good elements that are there now, building on them and ensuring at the same time that parking is provided in a way that responds to those immediate needs we have at the moment.”

Ms Grigsby said the Bridge Hotel and Werribee Toyota sites would be looked at for other uses in the long-term once the three catalyst sites had been redeveloped.

Mayor Adele Hegedich said the acquisitions were an opportunity for the council to “grab the land while it is available”.

“They’re set in points within the CBD that will be strategic for the organisation in due course, and for the municipality as a whole.”