Local residents helped to cut the ceremonial ribbon at Merrifield City in Melbourne’s outer north last month, marking the completion of the first 6700sqm phase of the greenfield development and a raft of new store openings.
The fully leased centre introduced new dining options to the community as well as a bulk-billing medical clinic and Chemist Warehouse. These much-anticipated offerings joined the area’s first full-line Coles and key services such as a newsagent, technology repair station and beauty salons. Also included in the final line-up are a dental surgery, real estate agency and cult Melbourne bakery chain Daniel’s Donuts.
Centre Manager Kylie Robertson says the neighbourhood shopping destination has been well patronised so far, with Merrifield’s burgeoning population appreciating walkable access to everyday essentials and wellness amenity. “The level of interest in our retail partners and engagement in centre promotions has been off the charts,” she explains. “It is very rewarding to be able to bring some of Victoria’s finest independent operators to this new community, to see how excited the locals are to get to know them and hear how much they appreciate having a retail and lifestyle hub designed around their needs.”
With a mixture of household names and emerging local retailers, Merrifield City has been designed to reflect and serve an ethnically diverse population of predominantly young families seeking the suburban dream of the 20-minute neighbourhood. Among the globally minded food and beverage offering, visitors can find a South Asian grocer, traditional Turkish kebab house and Lebanese-style bakery as well as the first shopping centre location for Abbotsford roastery-cafe AU79 in Aurum Espresso. Leading national brands such as Ferguson Plarre and Sushi Sushi are also on the menu, ensuring plenty of lunchtime choice for workers at the nearby Merrifield Business Park in addition to those living close by.
Luke Young, QICRE’s General Manager – Retail, explains: “To secure the right retail mix we worked closely with MAB Corporation to understand the expectations of those choosing to make their home in Merrifield and drew on the vast network already established through our dominant assets in eastern and western Melbourne.” He adds: “We were committed to building a quality fresh food and casual dining offer at Merrifield City, not only because it heralds a new era of convenience for residents but also because shared food experiences tend to play a big role in establishing community culture and rituals.”
The same ingredients for success as those deployed for last year’s redevelopment at Watergardens, The Marketplace, can be seen in both the high-end finish of each store’s design and the compilation of fresh food options, including a sizeable greengrocer, to complement Coles. Young says supporting specialty operators born in Melbourne’s north, such as Fish Salt and Honker Burgers, to grow their businesses was also a key factor in the final line-up at Merrifield City.
Integrating health and wellbeing services, such as a GP, into the centre was also essential to meeting the needs of Merrifield’s swelling population while aligning with QICRE’s aim to bring CBD-standard amenity to the outer suburbs. Personal care venues such as a nail bar and unisex hairdresser have already enjoyed strong foot traffic, meanwhile, surpassing expectations related to the pent-up demand of last year’s lockdown.
Since the municipality of Mickleham is due to be home to more than 140,000 people by 2041 [Urbis 2016], the unveiling of the shopping centre as the starting point for a new high street represents only a first step for Merrifield City.
Daryl Stubbings, Director – Australian Investment Management, says: “Our multi-staged plan for Merrifield City, developed in collaboration with MAB Corporation and Gibson Property Corporation, is for a forward-thinking activity centre that will help redefine urban living in Melbourne’s northern growth corridor."
He adds: "We look forward to leveraging our expertise in retail, hospitality, commercial and civic precinct development to expand Merrifield City as the community grows in the coming years; our focus fixed on creating opportunities for families to shop, work and socialise near where they live."