THEY’VE borne witness to the remarkable rise of Tamworth from country town to a thriving 21st century city.
But some of our oldest and most iconic buildings are sitting vacant, victims of spiralling CBD rent costs and a push towards more modern developments.
The old Commonwealth Bank building, The Rocks (restaurant only), most of the post office building, the Retreat Theatre, the old Workies Club building and the Regent Cinema are just six of the historic buildings currently without tenants.
But business leaders and real estate agents claim the vacancies are more a sign of the changing face of retail than a barometer of the health of Tamworth’s business sector.
“It’s just part of the cycle,” Paul Ashcroft from Ashcroft Property said.
“When you look at the rent being asked and the cost of refurbishing these iconic buildings, it’s only major companies that really show an interest.
“The commercial growth in Tamworth in the last five to eight years has been greater than any time in our history.
“You look at Taminda and other commercial and industrial developments and you have this rapid growth. Tamworth’s gone ahead in leaps and bounds.”
He said much of the growth had stemmed from shopping plazas like Shoppingworld, Southgate and Northgate, putting even more pressure on the CBD.
The Commonwealth Bank recently relocated, while The Rocks restaurant moved out just before Christmas and dress shop Gai Abandon recently shifted out of the old post office building.
The Regent Cinema has been vacant for a number of years while the old Workies Club building has not been at capacity since the club closed.
Tamworth Business Chamber president Tim Coates said he doubted the buildings would remain vacant for much longer.
“It’s all part of the business life cycle,” Mr Coates said.
“Someone will see an opportunity soon, as they have with other buildings.
“A case in point is the old Joblink Plus building opposite JT Fossey in Peel St.”
“It’s subsequently gone on to new ownership and has thrived and grown.”