For nearly five years it has been used to house fledgling businesses before they were ready to “graduate” to leasing their own commercial space.
Now, the time has come for Renew Newcastle to move on itself from ‘The Emporium’, after owner Iris Capital gave it 33 days to vacate the former David Jones building.
Iris Capital chief executive Sam Arnaout was not available for comment on Thursday, but its understood the company is close to lodging the development application for the multi-million dollar redevelopment of the mall.
The notice was received by Renew Newcastle last Friday afternoon. General manager Christopher Saunders said the organisation was happy to bow out “gracefully”.
“It’s been a terrific opportunity to keep this end of town alive,” he said.
“So many people say ‘we were here on the day DJs closed down and we wept.’
“They’ve watched the Emporium build over the years … it’s taken us a little while to get there but I think we got it right about 18 months ago. The calibre of artists is terrific.”
13 businesses in the Emporium will have to relocate and the organisation is helping them explore options.
The former department store has hosted 39 businesses since 2012, 22 becoming ongoing business ventures. Five have taken out commercial leases in the city.
Among them is Jodie Thompson, who has just moved her business – ‘Jodie Louise Millinery’- to her own premises on King Street.
She said the news was bittersweet.
“The Emporium was the best thing that’s ever happened for my creative business,” she said. “To be where I am now, it wouldn’t have been possible without Renew.”
Ms Thompson said Renew’s assistance extended well beyond the space she had occupied for three years.
“I got all the support I needed ... they had funding which enabled me to do courses to grow my knowledge and expertise.
“I can’t give them enough praise. It’s quite sad. It’s the end of an era.”
Renew Newcastle has 34 other spaces across the city and now has a presence in Hamilton as well as the CBD.
Mr Saunders admitted there had been a shift to the west, but said he hoped the East End could remain a “diverse, active space”.
“I do think it would be a great loss to not retain some of that creativity in the city,” he said. “Hopefully with something like the university coming into town, that will have an impact.”
Renew is looking for new tenancies across the city.
“We can bring life to your neighbourhood, protect your building from crime and falling into disrepair,” he said.
A celebratory party will be held in the Emporium on June 15 and the final day of trade will be two days later.