Flashback Friday | 'New era of retailing' in shire with opening of $35 million Southgate development

The $35 million Southgate shopping centre at Sylvania was hailed as "the start of a new era for retailing in the area" when it opened in 1983.

​Southgate replaced a small, open plan shopping centre with 15 shops, which opened in 1963 adjoining the Sylvania Hotel.

Nearby was Sylvania Bowl, one of many  AMF facilities which was opened in Sydney in the 1960s.

The bowling centre was retained but reconfigured when Southgate was built.

Southgate opened on Monday, May 2, 1983, with Coles' Kmart and New World supermarket as the main tenants and about 50 specialty shops and more than 1100 car parking spaces.

Col Joye and the Joy Boys and Humprey B Bear performed on stage during Thursday night shopping in the week of the opening.

A Baby of the Year contest was held later in the month.

Shops included Mr Big tobacconist, Chicken World, Joe's Meats, Southgate Milk Bar, Amcal Chemist, Barbuto Fruit and Vegetable Market, Bottoms Up fashion, Barbara's House & Garden, Humpty's Coffee Lounge and Restaurant, Sylvania Sports & Toys, Pontifex jewellers, Southgate Hi-Fi and Video, Mr Whippy, Sussans, Just Jeans, Foto Island, Jann's Kids Corner, Heaven Boutique and Cut Price Deli.

A few weeks after the shopping centre opening, Bill Collins - known as Mr Movies - turned the first sod for construction of a $3 million Village cinema complex., which opened in December, 1983.

The movies complex closed in the 1990s, and has since been converted into a gym and learn-to-swim pool, operated by Fitness First

The Leader produced a special edition on Saturday, April 30, 1983, to promote the new shopping centre.

Sutherland Shire president Kevin Skinner hailed the development as "the start of a new era for retailing in the area".

"The $35 million complex will make Sutherland Shire more self-sufficient and hopefully will mean shire residents in the Sylvania area will no longer need to cross the river to shop," he said.

The advertising feature said, "The opening of a Coles K-Mart and New World supermarket brings to the community 'one-stop' shopping facilities equal to anywhere in Australia".

Coles managing director and chief executive Brian Quinn said the company regarded Southgate as "a showpiece development".

The project would create 350-400 jobs, the feature said.

However when the project was announced in January, 1980, the Leader reported residents and shopkeepers in the existing shopping centre were not happy. 

Several councillors were also concerned about the traffic implications.

Chemist Allen Hough said he hadn't heard from one person who was happy with the development.

"They're afraid they will lose the village atmosphere and are sceptical about the worth of a big development in the middle of a residential area," he said.



Every Friday we delve into the Leader archives to embark on some time travel.

We will bring you photographs of a news event from 57 years of Leader news coverage that you may or may not recall.

Flashback Friday submissions are also welcomed.

Feel free to share your recollections with us on our Facebook page @SutherlandShireStGeorgeNews or email leaderletters@fairfaxmedia.com.au