Newcastle station to be managed by arts body Renew Newcastle

STATION TO STATION: Christopher Saunders is the general manager of Renew Newcastle, which will 'activate' the space at the former station for 18 months.
STATION TO STATION: Christopher Saunders is the general manager of Renew Newcastle, which will 'activate' the space at the former station for 18 months.

RENEW Newcastle has been given the job of opening Newcastle railway station to the public for 18 months before its long-term future is decided.

Renew Newcastle – a not-for-profit organisation that puts artistic or creative operations into vacant buildings – has operated for nine years but recently lost its main retail space in the former David Jones building in the Hunter Street Mall.

Hunter Development Corporation chief executive Michael Cassel said Renew beat some “strong applications”.

“Renew incorporated the community feedback we received while also showing respect to the immediate area and making sure we would complement, not compete with the existing economy,” Mr Cassel said.

He said the corporation would be unveiling a new “brand identity” for Newcastle station in the new year.

“This is an exciting milestone for us,” Mr Cassel said. “We have created a great concept and I can’t wait to launch it next year.

“Our goal is that in time, people will say, ‘you have to go to the station’, so it becomes a key place to visit when in Newcastle.”

Mr Cassel said the “activation” of Newcastle station was expected to start midway through 2018.

Renew Newcastle general manager Christopher Saunders said 18 months was a long-term lease for an organisation that sometimes worked on “really short-term leases, like 30 days”.

“Our concept is called Platform4 and it is based on four key pillars: People’s Platform, Innovation and Education Platform, Event Platform, and Hospitality Platform,” Mr Saunders said.

“We are all about bringing the community in and supporting a broad range of activities – appealing to all sorts of people to make the station a great place to visit again.”

Mr Saunders said people should not expect a recreation of Renew Newcastle’s David Jones “Emporium” space, but there would still be a mix of retail and arts’ studio operations on show.

He said Renew had 3000 square metres of space on the station’s ground floor.

Mr Saunders said since Renew Newcastle began in 2008, it had influenced the way the city had developed and he hoped the interim operations at Newcastle station would influence the way the buildings were eventually adapted by a future developer.

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