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Making the mall their home 

28 September 2017 | Posted in: News

Written by: Neroli Foster

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.