YOU couldn't deny the retailers of River St a toast of champagne last Friday.
Since a fire closed Little Woolworths in Ballina in December last year, the retailers freely admit they have been doing it tough.
But Ballina Shire Council last Thursday approved the $6m development application to rebuild the new, bigger supermarket.
And the retailers who were able to gather for a celebratory toast were, as one, pleased the way is now open for Woolworths to return.
To add to that good news for the CBD retailers, council announced it had purchased two Tamar St properties - the Tamar Centre and the Tamar Arcade - for $2m, which it will develop into a car park, adding 80 more spaces to the CBD.
Debbie Carter from Wallace and Co, who has worked in the family CBD shop for 30 years, said she hadn't seen anything like the current downturn in the Ballina economy since the 1970s.
It's not all do with the closure of Little Woolies, the retailers said.
There was the opening of the Ballina bypass, construction work for the Ballina beautification at the eastern end of River St and the general downturn in the economy.
"It all came at once," was one comment.
But the approval of the rebuilding of Little Woolworths and the extra car-parking spaces now give the retailers hope for the future.
The retailers praised council for approving the development application, even though there were concerns with flooding and car parking.
Woolworths will implement flood mitigation measures in the new store and also gave an undertaking to waive council responsibility for any potential loss through flooding.
"The real celebration will be when it opens," Ms Carter said.
The two Tamar St properties will be demolished to make way for the car-parking spaces.
Council has already commenced preliminary planning to redevelop the properties for car parking and will enter into discussions with the tenants currently in the premises.