Plaster Fun House demolition to bring relief for struggling businesses

NEWS of the Ballarat Plaster Fun House’s demolition has come as a relief for neighbouring business owners, who have been waiting patiently for Grenville Street to reopen to traffic. 

Carpet Court Ballarat business owner Rod McDonald said he was frustrated it had taken this long. 

“We’re coping. But we’re down 50 per cent on sales, which is significant,” Mr McDonald said. 

“I’ve lost one month of business, as it’s been almost three months since it happened.”

The businesses have been told the facade of the building will be demolished, after an engineering inspection deemed the building unsafe. 

Once the engineering report is submitted to the city council, the demolition will proceed. 

The central Ballarat business was gutted by fire on February 6. 

Mr McDonald said it had been 84 days since the fire. 

“People drive here and see the road and see it as too much of a hassle and go to one of the other 10 carpet stores in Ballarat.

“We just want the street to be open to the public again. 

“It has been frustrating that they didn’t get their heads together, council and the insurance companies, and do what they’re doing now six weeks ago.”

The Provincial homewares store, a neighbouring business to the Plaster Fun House, was damaged by smoke in the fire. 

The business closed for a week after the fire before reopening and selling smoke-damaged stock at 60 per cent off. 

They then closed for three weeks, gutting the store, removing shelving and repainting the shop. 

Ballarat store manager Simone Fergus said the sooner the road opened, the better. 

“There is a culture in Ballarat where you only go somewhere if you can get a park out the front,” Ms Fergus said. 

She said sales had been down, with regular customers not as regular and less foot traffic along the street. 

“Our first week back open was OK – because people wanted to see the changes we’d made. But it’s been quiet again since then.”

She said they felt like they were in limbo. 

“We’ll just keep plodding along until it opens up. What else can we do?” Ms Fergus said. 

Mr McDonald said they had been told the front wall would be demolished this week and the road would be opened. 

“We just want the road to be open so our business can go back to normal.”

He said it wasn’t just affecting his business, but also had flow-on effects. 

“Because we don’t have the sales, only 50 per cent of our subcontractors have work as well.

“Our biggest fear is further delays. If it doesn’t happen next week, when will it happen?

“Systems and bureaucratic ways have got in the way of common sense.”

Mr McDonald and Ms Fergus both hope that a new retail or commercial store will be built on the premises.

nicole.cairns@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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