Big Top Sails begin replacement

Replacement of Big Top Maroochydore's Iconic Sails has Begun
Replacement of Big Top Maroochydore’s Iconic Sails has Begun

History will be made at one of the Sunshine Coast’s key retail destinations when the iconic Big Top sails are removed to be replaced as part of a $20 million redevelopment of the three-hectare site in the heart of Maroochydore’s Principal Activity Centre.
The project by Reed Property Group will see the revitalisation of what was the Sunshine Coast’s first regional shopping centre into a fresh new destination combining authentic farmers’ markets with retail conveniences including a Woolworths Supermarket and other specialty retailers.
The sails, which were originally installed in 1986 by Christopher Skase’s Qintex were the largest single fabric roof of its kind in the southern hemisphere.
The original Big Top Architect, David Oliver of Greenway Architects, said he was pleased when he heard of the new plans for the site.
“In the late eighties, the Big Top sails were revolutionary and were devised as a way of joining together two separate shopping strips to create a mall with more retail space,” he said. “I’m pleased that Reed Property Group is keeping the integrity of the original site and structure and tailoring it to a 21st century retail environment.
“Having a farmers’ market alongside a supermarket and other specialty stores is a great idea and will work well within the space. After all, the Big Top originally came from a desire to join together two distinct shopping precincts separated by an open car park.”
Reed Property Group Development Director Ross Webb said since introducing the concept of Big Top Market Fresh, they had received overwhelming support and interest from the local community as well as national and international tenants.
“We are pleased to announce that 75% of Big Top Market Fresh’s floor space is now under offer and our leasing is well on track towards the opening,” he said. “We had originally hoped to be open before the end of 2014 however this timeline has had to shift due to extra work required inside the centre.
“After consulting with our tenants and suppliers and taking into account the difficulty of doing shop fit outs during the December-January period, we now expect the project to be completed and open to the public by Easter 2015.
“Given the success of the opening of Stage One at Easter this year, we know the next stage opening will be even better.
Stage One of the project launched the Ocean Street dining and entertainment precinct with four new restaurants including the region’s largest dedicated live music venue, Solbar. Another restaurant, Panwa Thai Cuisine, is scheduled to open in the next fortnight and the refurbishment of the old Australia Post site into the Post Office Bar & Restaurant is scheduled to open in October.
The opening of this precinct coincided with the Ocean Street World Festival which according to organisers, attracted a record 30,000 attendees.
“The multicultural flavours and quality of the restaurants that have been attracted to the site will make for a very soulful and authentic experience – unlike any other precinct on the Sunshine Coast,” Mr Webb said.
“Together with award-winning farmers’ market operator and Restaurant Australia ambassador Shane Stanley and the return of much-loved Big Top tenants as well as the introduction of exciting new ones, Big Top Market Fresh will proudly play a key role in positioning Ocean Street as a destination where residents, workers and tourists can access convenient and fresh services with a true local flavour.
“The replacement of the sails will herald a major milestone in the project and will bring us a step closer to delivering on this vision.”
MakMax Australia Project Manager Brian Vander Velde said the Big Top structure was a large project with 4,500 square metres of fabric and half a kilometre of cables required.
“While the job is fairly straightforward, it requires specialised rigging to ensure the tension is right to resist the wind loads,” he said. “The first step is to remove the existing sails while keeping the cones and support structures in place.
“We will need to stabilize the four columns and then slice the old fabric into ribbons that will be lowered to the ground. A small crane will then lift the columns to ground level for refurbishment.
He said the removal process would take about ten days and then the refurbishment team would spend about six weeks on salvaging and refurbishing the fixtures and fittings before it would be ready to erect the new membrane, which would come in five pieces and be joined on site.
“The whole process is fairly straightforward and once we have the columns and cones in place, it is a matter of putting the sails into position and ensuring that we have the right tension,” Mr Vander Velde said. “This will take about four days before it’s ready to be lifted back into place.”
He said that people would notice the difference with a cleaner, whiter result as well as the seams running in a different direction which will not only be more efficient and reduce the chances of leaking but will also be quite visually stunning.
The replacement of the shade sails is expected to take 6-8 weeks, dependent on weather conditions. Woolworths and Malouf Pharmacies will continue to trade in the Centre and Maroochydore Newsagency is expected to start operating from their new location inside the centre from next week.
Reed Property Group will be providing regular images and updates of the construction progress via its Facebook page and website