AS one of the first shoppers to enter Westfield Kotara’s new youth and urban precinct, Rachael Francis was on a strict mission to find her son’s dream Christmas present – but also to join in a moment of history.
Ms Francis had also been one of the first shoppers to visit the centre’s carpet mall on the opposite side of the building when it opened 10 years ago, plus was the first customer to purchase an item from Guess.
“But I think this section is even more welcoming,” Ms Francis said on Thursday.
“I really like it, it’s light and airy and modern and I think it will certainly give Charlestown Square a run for its money.”
The 30 new and relocated retailers opening this week are mostly in the new 7000-square-metre precinct on level two, which is the start of a $160 million transformation and brings the centre’s total floorspace to about 80,000 square metres.
Kmart will also open in the precinct on November 29 and Zara will open in the carpet mall in coming months.
Centre managers Kate Murphy and Sarah Sylvester cut the opening ribbon at 9am and were showered with confetti, before they welcomed about 200 gathered shoppers through to the precinct.
Thousands more visited throughout the day.
The centre also introduced ticketless parking and reopened more than 380 car spaces.
Ms Francis said she diverted from her original mission and ventured into region-first gift retailer Mr & Mrs Jones, where she bought herself a new drink bottle and two Christmas presents for her brother.
“It was really nice to be here for the opening, I liked all the music and atmosphere,” she said.
“I’ve found it difficult the past year with less parking, so it will be nice when they’re all opened up again.”
Katrina Nicholls was looking for her son’s year 10 formal attire while her daughter Samara was looking for a new outfit for This That Festival.
Ms Nicholls said she hadn’t expected the new precinct to be “quite this big”.
“We’re really counting down to Kmart,” she said. “We thought it was faster to get in with parking.”
Alicia Lowe visited with her daughter Amelie, three, and her father Rodger King.
“It was exciting to see what they had been working on for so long,” she said.
“I’m very impressed, it’s more modern – I like the specials and that there are stores we have never had here before.”
Ms Murphy said she was expecting between 80,000 and 100,000 visitors during the four days of festivities, which will include entertainment, pop-up bars and giveaways.
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