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Sydney news… Bondi pop up fears, and how Oxford St compares to Chapel St

 

Concerns for New Year’s Eve – and comparing two iconic shopping precincts.

On a quick visit to Sydney recently I picked up a copy of the Wentworth Courier – local newspaper of the affluent eastern suburbs. The front-page headline had caught my eye… “Pop-Up Beach Party Danger”.

The beach party article was a bit disappointing as it wasn’t about pop ups at all – instead it described concerns of the local Council that New Year’s Eve for 2015 could see many private (and out-of-control) parties appear on Bondi Beach. There had been a major, ticketed event planned for the precinct again this year – but that has just been cancelled by the organisers. Local Mayor Sally Betts is quoted as saying she is “incredibly nervous” about the potential for drunken and anti-social behaviour, although the police don’t seem so concerned. The article also says residents “rejoiced” at the news (of the cancelled music festival) and the community was excited there is no planned event – “we’ll be able to walk around on NYE and enjoy ourselves” said Lenore Kulakauskas, convener of the Bondi Beach Precinct. And not another word about pop ups…

Further into the paper I came across another bold heading – “What Melbourne can teach us – it’s Oxford Street V Chapel Street”. Now, I thought this will be interesting… The article compared the success and challenges of Sydney’s Oxford Street with Melbourne’s Chapel Street (they’d have to be the two major strip-shop destinations in Australia – especially for fashion and food). The author suggested that Oxford Street could learn from the Chapel Street approach to marketing and development – arguing that Chapel Street has the dedicated and well-resourced Chapel Street Precinct actively lobbying stakeholders for improvements around the area – as well as co-ordinating promotions, events and social media. Chapel Street businesses pay a compulsory levy to support the association, which also lobbies the local Stonnington Council (with considerable influence). In comparison, the “premier business group” representing Oxford Street is a voluntary association relying on local government grants for funding. Oxford Street runs through 3 separate Councils and the road itself is within the jurisdiction of Transport for NSW… The co-ordinator of the Paddington Business Partnership, Sal Tremlett has reviewed the Chapel Street model and commented “they are a well-oiled machine, they address major issues, they have a presence on the street…”

Both precincts are highly sought-after pop up destinations… offering a healthy mix of major and quirky fashion brands, interspersed with food and lifestyle options – attracting a steady flow of visitors. Both strips have suffered with a significant number of long-term vacancies (although my perception is that Chapel Street has turned a corner in recent months – and shops don’t stay vacant quite as long as in recent years…?). From the pop-up perspective though, it’s still tough to find short-term locations. The prominent handful of commercial agents along Chapel Street don’t seem keen to allow pop up – the few locations I know of (and have worked in) have been made available by arrangement through the landlords… friends, families and associates who grab the opportunity to jump into short-term spaces.

And that’s something I’d like to see more of around our major shopping precincts – active support for short-term installations from the trader’s associations and Councils (and agents)… it could go a long way to shifting the perception of pop up !

 

Wentworth Courier 15th October 2014

Image : Wentworth Courier, 15th October 2014

 

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