Could Costco’s departure pave the way for a new Docklands High School?

Could Costco’s departure pave the way for a new Docklands High School?
Sean Car

While the exit of any business from the precinct isn’t usually cause for optimism, Costco’s recent announcement that it will leave Docklands for Ardeer could open the door for a desperately needed secondary school.

The wholesale supermarket giant’s country manager Chris Tingman confirmed with Docklands News in January that it would soon close its Docklands warehouse, however an exact timeframe for when is not yet known.

Opened in 2009, Costco’s departure will mark the end of a 15-year presence in Docklands which helped create an important activation of an otherwise difficult site on Footscray Rd, drawing thousands of customers to the precinct every year.

“Costco is continually looking to improve our members’ experience and bring great value,” Mr Tingman said.

“Our focus is always to find the right location to meet our specifications so that we can ensure every warehouse is comprehensively stocked, offering a wide range of products and services of the best quality at the best possible price.”

 

We are closing the Docklands warehouse and relocating to Ardeer. Costco is very excited to be a part of the wider Melbourne West community; we feel it is the perfect location for offering more convenience for our rapidly expanding membership base.

 

“We look forward to sharing our progress with our members as we work on the relocation. Any updates will be shared via social media and on our website.”

While Mr Tingman didn’t confirm when asked by Docklands News, reports have suggested that a contributing factor behind Costco’s decision was an increase in expenses, namely council and state government costs.

Docklands Chamber of Commerce president Daniel Hibberd said the announcement was another reminder local businesses in Docklands, irrespective of their size, were still feeling pressure.

“I think that there needs to be a realisation for the entire community that businesses are still in a compromised position with current market conditions, and increased costs outside of that are putting businesses under a lot of strain,” he said.

However, he added: “Although it’s never a nice thing to hear a big employer exit Docklands, the opportunity of the large space that Costco’s departure opens for a new business or community use in Docklands is exciting – something good could come out of this.”

Locals took to social media in January to share a range of ideas on what big businesses could potentially replace Costco at the site, which included the likes of IKEA and Bunnings.

But the idea which has been raised the most is for a new Docklands Secondary School.

Issues surrounding the growing pains at the nearby Docklands Primary School have been well reported, with students overflowing into a temporary campus in the District Docklands shopping centre.

The primary school was constructed on the last conceivable site left in Docklands, and the school’s principal Adam Bright and the school community have been vocal about the need for the government to start thinking about a secondary school for the area.

What better use for the Costco site than a high school, which would help draw more families to the area and provide a community activation that could breathe new life into this site abutting the Moonee Ponds Creek?

It would require a major investment by the state government to purchase the land from Costco, but after all the education planning failures in Docklands to date, this would be the perfect way to repay the debt to local families. •

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