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Whatever has happened to the Downer shops?

By johnboy - 5 May 2009 42

[First filed: May 05, 2009 @ 09:05]

Back in 1988 quite a bit of bicentennial money was spent on the Downer shops. A very nice precinct was created, almost like a monastic cloister.

Having lived in Downer a couple of times it was something I really appreciated.

Over the years the fortunes of the shops has waxed and and waned. It’s had bike shops, take-aways, a rather good indian restaurant, and a very handy supermarket.

Only there’s nothing there at all these days. It’s all boarded up.

Some of you will say that’s the result of changing demographics, market forces, and proximity to the burgeoning commercial precinct of Dickson.

Only I happen to know that people interested in renting the space can’t even get a quote from the lease holder.

Suspicious minds might wonder if it’s being deliberately made derelict in order to make a case for a change of use. Apartments perhaps?

So should the ACT Government at least threaten to resume the lease unless the site is returned to its intended purpose?

Shopping sites being deliberately run down

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42 Responses to
Whatever has happened to the Downer shops?
1
phototext 9:42 am
05 May 09
#

It was a great Indian restaurant, a nice balance between cheap and good food.

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2
caf 9:47 am
05 May 09
#

Refusing to lease the space and holding out for a change-of-lease only works because the owner believes that the change of use will eventually be approved.

If we took a more hard line on change of use, they’d learn to lease it.

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3
Izzyduck 10:05 am
05 May 09
#

DA for 2 storey office building granted by ACTPLA early 2008. Current economic climate has project deferred until later this year.

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4
mcs 10:10 am
05 May 09
#

Long time lurker (Really enjoy reading this website, so many interesting things come up), first time poster.

I live in Bradfield St (Well I usually do, currently in the UK on uni exchange but will return in July), and ever since we moved in there in 2006 there has been constant talk of development/redevelopment etc of the Downer site. The last thing that I heard, which was towards the end of last year was that the mostlikely option for the site was that the business centre would remain, and as you guessed the old shops were to become more apartments or retirement village houses. I think the old school area was to be redeveloped as community facilities or something, I’m not quite sure?

This is in tandem with continued talk of a new shopping centre being built in the cleared corner opposite the business centre (I.e. on the corner of Bradfield St and Melba St.) I can’t see how a shopping centre would be beneficial or be able to survive financially, as Watson and Dickson are both very close and convenient. The only way I could see it actually happening would be if you got a major supermarket move in, Aldi would be the only one for whom it would be viable (Although a new woolworths would be a far better improvement on that joke of a one in Dickson).

I don’t know of any more developments this year as I haven’t been in Canberra, but when I have been talking to my flatmate in Downer he hasn’t said anything. I know that it is all mixed up with all the fuss surrounding the redevelopment of the school sites as well and that there was a big fuss as Downer was not mentioned/missed out or something in some of the decisions/reports etc (I really do not know the details as such as I’ve never been that particulary interested). I’m sure there are plenty of people that have a far better knowledge of the overall subject.

It seems a waste to have facilities there that can’t be accessed or used at all. I’d like to see it all knocked down to be honest, with the business centre rebuilt if required in one corner of the block and some more parkland/open space opened up. A nice community hall/multi purpose venue as well to go with it. It will never happen I know, but it’s a better option then some of the others being muted.

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5
Furry Jesus 10:24 am
05 May 09
#

A nice little old-style grocer’s store would be good – somewhere to buy the papers, milk and bread, perhaps sell organic fruit and veg and a quaint little licensed cafe with non-plastic outdoor seating and a little terrain for playing boules, poetry slams on Tuesday nights and trivia on Thursdays, local jazz combos on Sunday afternoons…

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6
p1 11:05 am
05 May 09
#

I don’t know anything about the specifics of this case, but it is definitely a pattern which has repeated across Canberra over the last 20 years. While I think that changing demographics and social structure is a main driver, I don’t see why people who have the spare cash necessary to sit on an asset for 10 years should profit hugely. Perhaps when change of use gets processed the owner should pay the government a realistic amount to reflect the increase in land value?

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7
Jim Jones 11:05 am
05 May 09
#

They had a ‘nice little sold-style grocers’ there, which went broke very quickly. It’s too close to Dickson shops for it to be worthwhile for people to spend any real money there. So the stock went largely unsold, and what remained was largely out of date (word to the wise, never try to eat potato chips once they’ve gone out of date).

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8
Furry Jesus 11:13 am
05 May 09
#

True Jim lad, they did. but it was a very ordinary looking place, quite charm-free. Any store that lets cheap metal shelving and coke machines dominate the interior space is asking for abandonment in my book.

A little research and some inspiration is what’s needed – give the customer something to value and something they want to use. Look at Watson shops – how many cafe/restaurants do they have there, all of which seem to be surviving.

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9
abc 11:34 am
05 May 09
#

A supermarket will struggle. especially now that the WOOLIES at Dickson is about to start it’s upgrade..

MACS moving to other half of the bank.. no more bread made on site.. and self service checkouts with just 4 serviced express lanes and less checkouts for big buys.. but the deli will be twice as big.. plans on ACTPLA

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10
Tempestas 11:38 am
05 May 09
#

p1 said :

I don’t see why people who have the spare cash necessary to sit on an asset for 10 years should profit hugely. Perhaps when change of use gets processed the owner should pay the government a realistic amount to reflect the increase in land value?

Exactly, we need a system where if the owner decides to cease renting out the commercial space, that they have a small finite time to get it back to meeting the purposes of the lease. If not the Government can revoke and re-auction the lease. I’m sure if that area was to go to auction today for the purposes that we all seem to think would be viable, a suitable buyer would show up.

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11
YapYapYap 12:02 pm
05 May 09
#

I can’t see why Downer can’t find a place in the market, despite its proximity to Dickson. Griffith shops does very nicely, as a (mostly) food precinct and Narrabundah shops is starting to find its feet along the same sort of line – mostly restaurants/cafes and a bar. And that’s in the face of two larger, and expanding, centres within a km.

ps I lived on Bradfield St as a little Yap, and recall a stabbing murder, involving a pair of scissors, occuring in one of the shops. Hardly an excuse to kill-off the shops now – 45 years later – though.

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12
VYBerlinaV8_the_one_ 12:45 pm
05 May 09
#

I wonder if there’s a difference between average incomes for Downer and Narrabundah / Griffith…?

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13
YapYapYap 1:01 pm
05 May 09
#

I’d imagine that the disposable incomes of inner north and inner south residents are more or less on par. The might be a little more ‘serious’ wealth in the inner south, but otherwise I’d say its pretty much line ball.

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14
Whatsup 1:56 pm
05 May 09
#

Face it, any kind of shopping there would be an absolute downer.

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15
Hercsie 2:07 pm
05 May 09
#

I grew up in Atherton Street Downer from 1967 thru to 1985, went to Downer Primary School. I went for a walk around Downer last weekend. Our old place has been extended and remodelled – as ex govies are – but it was sad to see the shops in that state. The demographics must have something to do with it.

In its heyday there was a chemist, fruit shop, milk bar, supermarket, butcher and newsagent (which later became a takeaway and then a doctors surgery).

A great deal of what could be purchased at these shops can now be bought a woolies maybe people are getting lazy and don’t want to go to seperate outlets for items they can buy in the one spot?

I do agree with some of the earlier posts though that a well set out grocer of providor would do well.

Anyway, my 2 cents…

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