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Renew Newcastle response to GPT’s announcement

25 August 2010 | Posted in: News


Renew Newcastle has been inundated by people wanting to know our views on GPT’s decision to withdraw from Newcastle. Like many Novocastrians we are surprised and disappointed but we’re certainly not deterred. We will be redoubling our efforts and we are convinced that our proven low cost, bottom-up approach to revitalising the city is needed now more than ever.

We are particularly disappointed because GPT have been an excellent partner for Renew Newcastle. Over the last 18 months we’ve worked together to bring life back to the mall. It has gone from more than 20 empty shops to almost none in that time. From our point of view GPT have been an exemplary property owner in the city. They have not let the city go to seed while they made their decisions and instead have seen the value in seeding the small-scale creative activity that has led to such a dramatic turn around. Newcastle now desperately needs other property owners to follow their lead.

What does this mean for our current projects?

Currently there are 20 Renew Newcastle projects occupying 15 spaces owned by GPT in and around the Hunter Street mall area. GPT are Renew Newcastle’s largest but not our only property partner – we have expanded from the mall to sites across the city, Newcastle West and Honeysuckle and we are continuing to expand into new properties and new partnerships all the time.

For Renew Newcastle’s projects there is no change. Renew projects will continue to occupy their spaces for the foreseeable future. At this stage GPT’s exit plan hasn’t been detailed but it won’t happen immediately. They will continue to manage and develop the Hunter Street Outlets with business as usual for their existing retailers. Renew Newcastle projects have been a key factor in the revitalisation of the mall and we think we’ve got a strong case to continue with new owners while they consider their plans.

What does it mean for Renew Newcastle?

While GPT’s announcement has been disappointing it is also exactly why Renew Newcastle exists. Renew Newcastle is not about any particular big development but rather about getting away from relying on any one thing in particular to provide Newcastle’s transformation. Renew Newcastle is always a “meantime” strategy designed to take periods of uncertainty and turn them into opportunities to seed new businesses, creative projects and initiatives.

We are keen and available to clean up, fix up and activate any sites in the city that owners want to improve.

In the near future, we will redouble our efforts to get other property owners on board across the city. We will be working with the Property Council, real estate agents and a large cross section of the community to open up new empty spaces for kind of revitalisation strategy that has already resuscitated the mall. Newcastle needs it now more than ever.