Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Oxford Street Revitalisation

There is no simple answer to the changes happening along Oxford Street. Many have been unfolding for more than a decade as a result of incremental changes of use. others are more recent following the success of Westfield at Bondi Junction. Elizabeth Farelley takes a look at Oxford Street in today's SMH . Whilst I agree with her general assessment of the situation the different characteristics of Oxford Street make it impossible to make the general observations about why the strip is changing. For example the change of use in the 'pink' end has been driven by the success of the bars and night clubs that have in turn pushed rents higher as more operators seek properties to open new entertainment venues or expand existing ones. In many ways Oxford Street's (pink end) difficulties are a result of its own success or 'excess' as the community seeks somewhere smart to meet, eat, drink and party squeezing out the retail variety along the way.

Council's plan to redevelop our property holdings at 56 - 76 Oxford Street (view proposal on Council's web site here as item 2 with PDF attachments) is to incorporate a large 1st floor food hall, ground floor specialty food shops and rear lane (Folley Lane) eat street will dramatically improve and diversify the offering at this end of Oxford Street. I believe the development worth tens of millions will act to attract visitors to the strip and generate a business renewal. I doubt though that it will contribute to reducing thee rents.

Oxford Street is baring all, and it's no Mardi gras
Elizabeth Farrelly
Twenty years back, in its heyday, Oxford Street exemplified this diversity. Rents were low and shops brimmed with the adventurous and the experimental. To walk the walk was to have a cultural adventure, never knowing what might come next.
Gradually, though, as success led to consumerism, Oxford Street snowcloned itself under avalanching boutique and chainstore cliches. Rents skyrocketed and adventure went west, to Newtown.
So when the vacancies began, it was easy to take a Darwinist stance, seeing it as a natural correction that would send the chainstores scuttling back home to the mall, reduce rents and, after initial pain, return the creatives.

No comments: