Recently, I went with a family member to Hurstville. I haven’t been there in ages. The first time I went to Hurstville was many years ago, when I met up with a classmate. We ate at the food court before watching this really good sci-fi flick. I took the train, but I couldn’t remember how he got there. The cinema was out of the way for him. The last time I visited was three years ago. I learned then that Myer had exited the mall in 2014. Though the Westfield underwent a significant redevelopment in 2015, the departure still left a gap in the plaza.
Westfield Hurstville is a medium-sized shopping mall, with a floor space of 61,231 square metres. The centre is a joint venture between Scentre Group and another entity. Hurstville train station sits across the road from the Westfield. There are also numerous bus connections to surrounding areas, including the Inner West, St George, and Sutherland Shire. At the moment, the centre has seven anchor tenants. These include Woolworths, ALDI, Kmart, Coles, Big W, Event Cinemas, and Rebel. The mall also has over 2,700 parking spaces. Westfield Miranda in the Shire dwarfs Hurstville, with wider corridors, a better layout, and more upmarket shopping options. At 127,000 square metres, Miranda is two times that of Hurstville.
Although unimposing, Hurstville has two food courts: the main one featuring the headliners and a smaller one with mostly Asian cuisine. The primary food court has the big names: McDonald’s, Oporto, and KFC. There is also Donut King and Chatime for those with a sweet tooth. There are the usual sushi place and other rice options. They also have Top Juice and Boost. You will likewise find kebabs here. The mini-food court has Soul Origin, a Korean place and others. By the time we left, most of these eateries were closed. The mall also boasts a Starbucks. I learned that the centre housed a few cafes, namely Mrs. Fields, Oliver Brown, and The Coffee Club.
The December toys
We only visited a few stores. We had a browse at Big W first, where we bought a two-pack of Aussie-made pillows. We then dropped by T.K. Maxx; we were there for a while. I saw these weatherproof umbrellas in black colour. They were a steal at their price. The brollies seemed quite durable and were rather lightweight. Two of them, please. I had a look at their menswear. They had this intriguing Ben Sherman polo, with contrasting front and back colour schemes. Upon trying it on, I surmised that it wasn’t the best fit. I also tried on this cargo short, but the pocketing needs improvement. No wonder there was still a couple of them on the rack.
We then went to Kmart, which was one level up. We had a look around; my companion browsed the shorts section. We got this striped pencil case which was perfect for my hair clipper and accessories. We had dinner afterward. We learned that most of the food option closed at six pm. COVID restrictions ensured that stores could allow a limited number of shoppers. Hence, there were queues outside some stores. We didn’t do the groceries thus we skipped the supermarkets. We passed by Best & Less and Uniqlo but didn’t enter.
Westfield Hurstville was instituted on 9 October 1978 by former state Premier Neville Wran. First proclaimed in 1975 at an expense of 30 million, the centre was seen as ‘the start of a new and greater shopping era for St George’. The mall was originally co-owned by Westfield and the local council. The Westfield included a Coles, Franklins, and Best & Less. The mall was known for featuring the first quiet park on top of the shops. This became popular among visitors who needed a top-up after browsing and carrying bags.
Hurstville was redeveloped in the 90s over The Avenue, a retail bridge connecting both sides of the mall. Kmart, Grace Bros, Greater Union and a further 125 specialty shops were added as part of the expansion. When Grace Bros opened shop in 1990, the store was very popular with the locals. Grace Bros originally wished to operate at Rockdale Plaza but talks of a David Jones entering the scene paved the way for the department store’s entry. Two months later, Greater Union opened, adding some pomp to a heretofore dead night life. However, the extension also caused headaches to the small retailers along Forest Road. There were then plans to turn these shops into a pedestrian mall. The early 90s saw the addition of a second food court, which had a 32-person capacity.
The mid-1990s saw many of the high-end stores waving goodbye. The arrival of Target was one of the bright spots. Though Toys R Us shrunk, this facilitated the advent of Rebel. ALDI currently holds the latter’s space. By 1998, the mall was seeing dwindling numbers as nearby centres were attracting more dollars. Roselands was refurbished, Miranda was growing, and Burwood was modernised. The building was showing its age and many businesses were boarding up. Franklins begat Food For Less which begat Tong Li Supermarket. As mentioned, Grace Bros or Myer closed in 2015. With a dearth of high-end shops and department stores, the centre was seen as moving more toward Rockdale Plaza. In other words, the Westfield had a bevy of discount stores but in much need of refitting.
As noted, the mall underwent a major refurbishment in 2015. This followed on the heels of of Myer and Toys R Us turning their backs on the centre. The $100 million refitting was completed on 18 November 2015. Celebrations ensued the next day. The redevelopment includes a new wholescale Woolworths as well as a JB HiFi on the former lower ground space of Myer. Meanwhile, Big W and Cotton On replaced the upper floor of Myer. A Rebel Sport ate into the half of Kmart. Best & Less barged into the former Toys R Us. There was likewise a new rooftop outdoor dining area. The Greater Union was rebranded as Event Cinemas, with a humongous Vmax screen added for good measure. Anyhow, new department stores were announced. Three mini majors were touted in July of last year. These would replace the erstwhile Target store. The first two, TK Maxx and Uniqlo, have already opened.
This is definitely one of the more minimalist Westfields around. Make no mistake though: this is a plaza that caters to a busy community. Though labelled as an ageing mall in the past, they have made an effort in recent years to move with the times. I remember when I first visited, they didn’t even have a Vmax screen. Unlike Roselands, this mall is close to the train station. This centre reminds me of Top Ryde. Both of them have Event Cinemas and there are overlaps among the stores. Both have seen the bolting of a major tenant. Both underwent major refurbishments in the past decade. While Hurstville is more accessible, Top Ryde is about fifty percent larger than Hurstville. The centre may not be the biggest, the newest, or even the closest, but is worth a visit every once in a while.