Life after death of the shopping strips

There is life after death for big-name shopping strips in the form of well balanced food, retail and services aimed at locals, according to real estate agency Gunning principal Malcolm Gunning.

Melbourne’s Chapel Street, Prahran, and Bridge Road, Richmond, are going through a slump previously seen in Sydney’s Oxford Street, Paddington, and Brisbane’s James Street, New Farm.

“The more established boutique brands have relocated into the Melbourne CBD just as they did in Sydney with the redevelopment of the CBD and opening of Bondi Junction,” Gunning says.

“What we’re seeing now is that Oxford Street has reinvented itself. Rents have come down because of high and prolonged vacancy rates, attracting a new breed of businesses, which has ultimately enabled ‘life after death’.

“Paddington has evolved into a service, restaurant and provedore area, with young fashion brands entering the scene.

“The pubs are undergoing a transformation, with Justin Hemmes and his group entering the area, the Paddington Inn, Bellevue in Hargrave Street and The Royal at Five Ways have been renovated.

“Other venues, best described as ‘gastropubs’, are moving towards a focus on food,” he adds.

“There are also places like Saint Peter, a high end sea food restaurant, which previously wouldn’t have been there under the high rents.”

Gunning believes a clustering of fashion brands and interesting food has been driven by the community, not weekend tourism.

“Shop tops are being split from the retail area and are now in high demand as fashionable flats,” he says. “Melbourne will experience the same thing. Chapel Street and Bridge Road, tend to be a tourist destination. As the rents go down, the area will evolve, too, and locals will need to be serviced.

“James Street, Brisbane, which is between Fortitude Valley, Teneriffe and New Farm, reinvented itself from its industrial business into an area that services the needs of a vibrant local community.

“It has established brands like Sass Bide, Camilla and Nudi Jeans as well as upcoming designers and high quality food options such as Jocelyn’s Provisions,” Gunning says.

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