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An empty space is a lost opportunity

28 September 2017 | Posted in: News

We see empty spaces, we can spot them a mile away, like a beacon on a dark night. We also celebrate progress. We are excited to see the former David Jones building opening as a display room on the ground floor and look forward to a finished light rail.

But progress takes time, Rome wasn’t built in a day. The proposed opening for the first project in the mall and the light rail is well over 12 months away. In the mean time, Renew can continue to do what we have been doing for the past eight years – bringing activity that helps local business in the mall and down Hunter Street to operate in the gap between now and then.

A study by the University of Newcastle last year, showed Renew projects contributed over $3m to the local economy in 2016. Having Renew projects existing in the CBD brings people to the area. It brings more people to work there, it brings people to shop there and this brings people to the other businesses nearby.

Having a Renew project in the neighbourhood can help reduce the impact of disruption. Renewer’s don’t mind if there is building work going on, if the road is blocked off, if there are rail cables being laid, or has fencing on the street outside the front door. Renew projects are happy to fill the gap while this is being done and in doing so can help sustain activity for existing businesses in the area.

We can only do this though with the support of property owners. We have worked with GPT for many years to fill the gap in their empty properties. These are now being returned and redeveloped by Iris Capital into what will become our new city centre.

There are still many empty properties waiting their turn. They sit on the streetscape with sad eyes and empty faces affecting the mood of the neighbourhood.

A temporary Renew tenant can help change the mood. As a property owner, you  choose the tenant from a list of potential projects and we will look after the rest. Renew will manage the tenancy, the basic maintenance and insurances, pay for water and electricity and fill the gap with activity. When either party wishes to exit the agreement, the tenant will vacate within 30 days leaving it in better condition than when they arrived.

If you have an empty property waiting for future change, we can fill the gap and reduce the impact vacant spaces have on their surroundings. Don’t let your property be part of the problem. As we see it, an empty space is a lost opportunity for the owner, the surrounding business and for an emerging endeavour. Call us today, we can work together to keep the city active during the disruption of progress.  

Making the mall their home 

28 September 2017 | Posted in: News

Even though the business of Renew is temporary, the number of businesses that we fondly call graduates continues to grow.

A Renew graduate is a participant whose time at Renew has enabled them to take on a commercial lease. Since Renew began in 2008 we have seen 49 projects graduate.  The majority of these are still operating in Newcastle and some have grown to an extent that has enabled them to move into bigger markets outside of Newcastle.

Some have moved into inner city suburbs where hubs of creative businesses are becoming an affordable option and inspire collaborations both likely and unlikely in nature. However the Hunter St Mall remains home to a significant number of other graduates.

These businesses are now self-sufficient, paying commercial rent. Currently in the mall is The Roost, the first co-working space in Newcastle, providing professional pathways for graduating university students; Studio Melt, providing Newcastle with world class local handmade product (Studio Melt sells the work of 7 Renew Newcastle makers); the Nook Store a nationally recognised surf and street clothing label; Studio Bliss turning science into multi sensory art; Curve Gallery exhibiting the work of both local and international artists and Shannon Hartigan Images, one of Newcastle’s most popular landscape photographers. Shannon actually bought his own building when he graduated. All of these businesses have expressed a desire to continue their enterprises in the city during and after the much-anticipated makeover.

Angela Hayley from Studio Melt says “we opened at the beginning of the upturn of the mall, so I think the timing really helped. There was a really good vibe on the street about the mall changing and people were quite supportive of that.”

The Roost was one of the first ventures in Newcastle to operate as a community of independent creatives, beginning as a Renew project in 2010. It not only continues to be a successful business, but has led the way for many other similar spaces in Newcastle to emerge.

Manager, Bec Dujin, explained that “The Roost has a lot of people move from Sydney who want a space. One of the main benefits for them is that this is a way to quickly connect into the creative community within Newcastle. There’s a great interconnectivity here.”

Its businesses like these that contribute to the value that Renew gives back to the community. In 2016 a University study put a figure of just over $3m to this value. The study found that even though Renew Newcastle began as a temporary solution for empty spaces, over time these short-term projects have created new jobs and skills, reduced vandalism and improved business and community confidence and regional tourism value for Newcastle.

Sarah from Sushi Koo summed it up saying: “it’s just been great to have not only increased traffic in the mall and those shop owners becoming our customers, but creating good morale if nothing else.“

We can help keep foot traffic coming and the morale high in the mall during the disruption of progress but need the support of new property owners. We have projects waiting to fill empty spaces with temporary activity until a revitalised CBD is completed. Call us to discover the benefits from you lending us your property until you need it.

Setting the bar high in colour

28 September 2017 | Posted in: News

By Rayannon Innes

Following last year’s highly successful collaborative charity exhibition Hell or Highwater, Sophia Flegg’s bold painterly pieces have made a reappearance in The Edwards, and they’re here to stay. Disappointed on missing the chance to purchase one of Sophia’s sold-out exhibition pieces, The Edwards publican Chris Joannou went one step further by requesting she paint a commissioned mural to be permanently hung in the main bar area of the iconic Parry Street establishment.

Sophia was given complete reign over the piece. The stripped back, low-lit space was the perfect canvas. For an artist who admits to thriving on a bit of creative chaos it took a mere five days for Sophia to execute the work onto six huge, metre-wide mural panels.

“The room was quite dark and serious”, she explained. “So I thought, how can I mess this up a little bit?.”

‘Nocturnal Animals’, is an eye-popping injection of colour and frivolity where Sophia’s iconographic characters work in telling a narrative perfectly fit for its equally animated environment. Having clearly made the right statement, Sophia has already received commissions for future murals and smaller painted works by admirers of the main bar’s new feature.

While Sophia continues to work on a number of commissioned pieces including mural back drops and album artwork for the likes of local music collective Madhouse DJs, Sophia is currently developing a poetry book that combines her photography, illustration and writing. Sophia intends to publish the book by the end of the year of which she plans to curate a launch event inviting local women within music, writing and the arts to exhibit alongside her work.

If you wish to make a purchase of one of her pieces or request a commission from Sophia, you can email her at [email protected] or call her on 0499 776 969.

Fostering a city’s renewal

28 September 2017 | Posted in: News

Ty Brennock joined our board in August 2015. His professional background is in human resources and marketing and has a very healthy network in the Newcastle and Hunter business community.

Ty sees that Renew was the catalyst for Newcastle to turn a corner, and since then, it has raced ahead (like a V8 Supercar).

“Newcastle is on the map, internationally, for many a reason and example. So much cool stuff going on from a creative perspective. And Renew really played a huge part in setting that in motion. So, any opportunity to become involved, I am proud to be a part of,” he said.

“Assisting with the creative space utilisation that benefits the city and its community both commercially and creatively has been very personally rewarding”.

“Having seen the success and joy of Renew members and their businesses and creations is always really awesome to see.  I’ll never get sick of seeing that!”

Ty would like to see Newcastle continue to embrace new and wild ideas.

“Newcastle is starting to take chances, and it’s cool. Pushing architecture boundaries, to incorporate crazy purple buildings alongside beautiful heritage buildings. Retain the old. Allow the new. It give the place character other leading creative global cities are known for,” he says.

Lighting a path to success

28 September 2017 | Posted in: News

Cyclist Brett Stepanik on the Tour Divide, BC Canada | Photography: Kerry Staite

By Rayannon Innes

When given the opportunity to tour the United States, two-wheeled travel and photography is what Kerry does best. After all, the business of off-road cycling across the mountainous Great Divide can spark quite the photo.

Kerry Staite, dedicated cyclist and founder of K-Lite Dynamo Lighting Systems has recently returned from a three-week tour in the states where his pedal-powered lights ensured competition cyclists had the highest standard of safety and efficiency on their ride. For Kerry, the annual race where competitors traverse the 4,418 km Rocky Mountains with little more than a bike and a backpack was the obvious choice to sell, promote and further test his lighting and battery products.

“It’s not uncommon for a cyclist to come under harm or worse, during the race”; asserted Kerry who understands the necessity of bright, durable bike lighting more than most. With the route taking competitors into the harshest of climates from Canada to New Mexico, simple avoidable accidents on the roads are what threaten cyclists the most. Nevertheless, Kerry’s K-Lite products not only saw competitors safely through the two-week campaign, but were the light of choice for the winning competitors.

As the dynamo pedal-powered batteries worked to generate energy for the cyclists’ lights and backpack of essentials, Kerry tagged along over the two-week long stretch with camera in hand and water on tap. Although the avid cyclist in Kerry would have loved to enter the competition, the job of event and product photographer required more than two wheels.

Three weeks, ten flights, and twelve cities; although brief, this was the right equation for Kerry to get K-Lite generating energy and excitement within the US market. Having now established dealerships in Canada and North America in addition to prior partnerships made in Europe, Kerry has his sights – and lights – set back home in Australia.

In collaboration with local and state-wide bike suppliers, Kerry will be promoting his K-Lite products by lighting the paths of cyclists commuting from Sydney to Newcastle in the sixth annual Newcastle Overnight ride. Kerry will be photographing and filming the iconic event taking place on the 11th of November that has cyclists embark at Sydney Observatory Hill and finish at Newcastle Baths for breakfast at sunrise. You can register to take part in the night ride here.