Renew Newcastle a singular success in mall

THRILLED: Alex Thompson, of Surfhouse Photography in Hunter Street. - Picture by Simone de Peak.
THRILLED: Alex Thompson, of Surfhouse Photography in Hunter Street. - Picture by Simone de Peak.
MARCUS WESTBURY

MARCUS WESTBURY

RENEW Newcastle's success can be measured by the fact that only one of its projects still exists in the revitalised Hunter Street Mall.

The mall was in ruin two years ago, when Renew Newcastle revived it by filling more than 20 empty shop spaces that now have long-term tenants.

The idea was to revive empty sites by making them available to artists, cultural projects and community groups on a 30-day agreement with reduced rent, in a bid to lure people back into the CBD.

And it worked, despite the uncertainty surrounding the mall after most land was bought by development company, The GPT Group.

Long-term leases were signed by more than 20 companies during the past two years, including Surfhouse Photography owner Alex Thompson, who started on a 30-day agreement before signing a lease 12 months ago.

"There is still one site in the mall that's empty and that's only because no one could find the owner, and we still can't," Renew Newcastle founder and creative director Marcus Westbury said.

"There are a couple of others that are no longer structurally sound that we couldn't use, but apart from that it has been a 100 per cent success rate.

"We still have more than 50 projects waiting to move into empty shop spaces and revive the properties or even move into new sites that have been built but not leased."