Streets of our town - the Sydney thread


#1

Not sure if this might be better classified as a gear grind, but this thread is for talking about the city we live in.

So, walking through Newtown on Monday and i was pretty stunned by the amount of shops closing permanently, presumably due to leases expiring at end of year. It’s just the numbers of places with these signs which seemed way out of whack to me.

Anyone out there able to comment on whether this is a pretty standard rate of closures, or is it an example of spiralling rent increases which will further speed the Town’s inexorable march into a conformist retail strip with more of the same vanilla franchises as everywhere else in the world?

This applies to the main drag - I didn’t pass through the southern end, which from recent visits still has a lot of interesting stuff going on.


#2

Its just indicative of how Sydney’s transformation into a “world city” as people love to say, has done little more than push out the people who made Sydney interesting in the first place.

The same thing has happened in places like London, New York etc.

As much as we loved the Olympics at the time, when I look back at the last 15-20 years it was in the years following the Olympics where i first noticed Sydney becoming less livable and less kind to its own citizens.

And the influx of foreign money has definitely accelerated the process.


#3

I don’t know how much the Olympics had to do with it, more that inexorable march which seems to be happening everywhere. Just reading the Beastie Boys book and it’s a striking thing in NYC too.

As far as Sydney goes, it just stands out more in Newtown, which, if one is being fair, has become a pretty uninteresting place. Apart from its proximity to uni, it’s too bland and expensive for young people.
I blame old codgers like myself who didn’t fuck off elsewhere when we had kids, instead remaining stubbornly attached to the place like limpets.


#4

I’ve lived walking distance away for over 5 years now and my anecdotal evidence is that there is fairly regular turnover of businesses. Competition is most definitely high and I can’t imagine rents are cheap.
Some of it would likely be down to weeding out unviable businesses - bog average food joints never last long.

I’m not sure whether we will see that spiral down to a vanilla shopping strip just yet as mostly independent or small chain places that I’ve seen disappear are replaced by something similar.

The point you raise about south king is likely partly due to that side seeing less tourists/ general foot traffic and having to do something different to get people down there (like holely molely) or being a really good local like the Botany View.

This is just my 2c though.


#5

Thanks, that’s exactly what I was trying to get at. I just don’t recall making a similar walk at the exact same time of year recently, so wanted the view from someone who has made that observation in other years.


#6

Can’t say I’ve noticed any particular time of year seeing more closures than another. I would think that those struggling would at least try to get the Christmas bump though.


#7

I’ve noticed in the last few years that Newtown has become a lot more boring. I think there’s a couple of reasons for that. Firstly, the lock out laws have made it a way more mainstream place to go for a drink compared to the city. This has increased the number of normies around Newtown to the detriment of the people who used to make it amazing and unique. Anecdotally I’ve also heard it is a much less safe place for queer communities than it used to be. Ditto Oxford Street.

Secondly, the rents are high and this has pushed people out. Enmore has become much cooler lately and even in the last two years I’ve noticed parts of Marrickville undergoing a lot of gentrification (at the expense of the Greek and Vietnamese communities, sadly). A number of interesting bars and small food joints have cropped up there lately. Glebe is also much more like Newtown used to be. Plus things like boutique retailers are moving online, so there’s going to be fewer storefronts for that sort of thing.


#8

While pretty much nobody considers it a part of Sydney, it sounds like a fair bit of that is happening in Katoomba and surrounding areas. Loads of businesses seem to be closing or on the edge due to exorbitant rent. The Paragon Cafe was a pretty big casualty last year with the landlord reportedly demanding $200k a year for rent. Madness.


#9

This thread makes me feel old.

The same discussions were being had when I was at Sydney Uni 20 years ago. I think we hit peak Newtown a fair while ago. Enmore & Marrickville are still okay.

I’m going to stop before I turn into Rob Sitch’s character here:


#10

The owners of the commercial real estate in declining areas (e.g. inner west Parramatta Rd) are stuck with an asset declining in value and rents are generally very low. This gives people a shot at a small business with the usual failure rates of everywhere else. Some ridiculously good deals on offer and agents will sometimes offer stupidly good deals in those places.


#11

The lockout laws have really fucked things up in this city. It’s going to be a long road back to undoing the damage they’ve done to Sydney being a fun city to live in.