Unprecedented development in the inner-city’s west and east ends has raised the question of what we should call these new geographical phenomena.
And, more to the point, what we should call the bit in the middle.
Is “Newcastle West”, the west’s official name, good enough to attract the next wave of property speculation, or should we shoot for “West End”, or some derivative of “CBD”?
“Wickham” is also making its presence felt as a cooler alternative for part of what will be the centre of the western metropolis. A new 14-storey pile proposed for beside the interchange is actually called “The Wickham”.
It’s a similar story around the Hunter Street mall, where Iris Capital’s “EastEnd” redevelopment has enlivened the keyboard warriors in the city’s real “east”.
Newcastle East is the official name of the suburb to the east of Pacific Park. “East End” is in common usage as a nickname, but some don’t like it being appropriated by real estate marketeers, especially if it describes something not actually in their suburb.
Which brings us to the centre of the revitalisation sandwich, the loosely defined “Civic precinct” around City Hall, the Civic Theatre, Civic Park and what was once Civic Station. Is “Civic” a little dowdy for a global city? Will it still be apt when the council hoofs it to Stewart Avenue?
One property type told Topics this week that a colleague had started referring to this area using the Manhattan-style sobriquet “Midtown”, which is nothing short of inspiring and earns our complete endorsement.
Anyone for SoHo (South of Honeysuckle)? DUMBO (Down Under the Meccano Building Oddity)?
Newcastle being Newcastle, we can only assume the arrival of “Midtown” in the local vernacular will set off a corrosive 30-year debate about which of the west or the east should be “Uptown”.
Pulling out the stops
All this talk reminded Topics to check in with the Geographical Names Board about Newcastle’s light rail stops.
The GNB called for feedback this year after Transport for NSW threw up Newcastle Interchange, Honeysuckle, Civic, Crown Street, Queens Wharf and Newcastle Beach as proposed names for the six stops.
The feedback period ended three months ago, but the GNB told Topics not to expect an announcement for another month.
Race builds community
Topics loves a good cost-benefit analysis, and the one presented to a Newcastle council meeting last month on the Supercars included a line worthy of Catch-22.
In a section titled “social capital”, the external report acknowledged the race had been a source of either pride or stress for different sections of the community.
But, in a triumph of logic gymnastics, it found a potential social benefit because the race had “unified residents of Newcastle East in their opposition to the event”.
“Relationships, connectedness and trust amongst some residents (including the Newcastle East Residents Group) gained strength, which can be seen to have enhanced aspects of social capital for these members,” the researchers opined.
This was too much for Greens councillor JMac, who fumed: “Imagine if that’s how we made decisions, councillors: ‘Yes, we’ve gone against the community, but, on the plus side, they’re now united against us.’”
The study did conclude, however, that businesses and residents inside the track were “most likely to experience negative impacts to social capital” and had “reduced levels of trust toward council and Supercars”.