It’s known as Australia’s fashion capital, but to local residents, it’s simply ‘Chaddy’ and for the past 60 years this shopping centre has played a central role in Australian retail.
Chadstone Shopping Mall, on the outskirts of Melbourne, is Australia’s largest and most valuable shopping asset, attracting over 24 million people annually and boasting an annual turnover of over $2 billion.
This staggering visitation and value is no accident. Since it first opened its doors in 1960, Chadstone has continually been revised, re-invented and reimagined to retain its place as Australia’s largest shopping mall.
Chadstone first opened its doors to the public in October 1960, becoming Melbourne’s first self- contained shopping centre and the largest in Australia at the time.
Initially, Chadstone comprised a single open-air mall with Myer at one end and a supermarket at the other, and even then it was a destination. Chadstone was a place you drove to and engaged in the shopping experience amidst the new Australian trend of an increasing urban sprawl.
In the 60 years since Chadstone has been continually expanded and revised. In the decades after construction, owners added a roof to better accommodate Melbourne’s climate. In the 1980s it enjoyed its first expansion, doubling its lettable floorspace and adding a cinema to its toolkit.
Several further redevelopments followed and by the late 2000s, Chadstone again claimed the title of Australia’s largest shopping centre and was for a period the biggest in the southern hemisphere.
The last 10 years have seen further expansion and revision, with a redevelopment of the property’s oldest areas and the construction of two additional buildings.
Now it boasts some of the world’s leading retail brands, is anchored by major tenants including Myer, David Jones, Kmart, Target, Aldi, Coles, Woolworths and HOYTS, comprises a floor space of 200,000sq m, and accommodates over 550 stores.
At a time when shopping centres have been reported as under threat and in decline, Chadstone has managed to carve out a unique reputation as both a destination and experiential hub.
The centre is frequented by locals, domestic tourists and international visitors alike, with many drawn not just to its size but the experience on offer.
In addition to a HOYTS cinema complex, Chadstone opened a Legoland Discovery Centre indoor theme park in 2017, making this the first attraction of its type in the southern hemisphere.
More recently a 12-storey luxury hotel opened adjoining the site and Chadstone owners have also unveiled plans for additional parking, an upgraded food precinct, and nine-storey commercial office building, pending Council approval.
A community hub
Speaking about the new expansion plan with Inside Retail late last year, Vicinity Group chief development officer Carolyn Viney noted Chadstone played a significant role in the surrounding region, supporting both current and future employment.
“Our destination centres, such as Chadstone, are community hubs bringing together the key elements that create the vibrant neighbourhood feel we all crave. We’re combining world-class, experience-led retailing, convenient services, office space and accommodation, all enabled by robust public transport connections,” she reflected.
Meanwhile, Chadstone director Fiona Mackenzie said the centre’s evolution had always been driven by the desire to meet consumer’s needs.
“Our customers and community have told us they want more dining and entertainment at Chadstone, so our plans include an extended dining precinct and additional fresh food to match their lifestyle needs,” Ms Mackenzie said.
In 2019, this commitment to their customer saw Chadstone labelled the nation’s most profitable shopping centre at a time when doom and gloom in retail abounded.
Last year alone it recorded a turnover of $2.1 billion, notching up a 10 per cent increase on the year prior.