The iconic Beyond Q bookshop will open its doors in Curtin for the last time this Sunday as the death knell begins to sound on a block of shops in the Curtin Square.
The seven shops located at 44 Curtin Place have been at the centre of a battle with the owners who aimed to turn the area into a six-storey mixed use residential development.
Despite the owners’ development application being knocked back in February, shop tenants need to all vacate the block by the end of the year – and several have been given their marching orders for when their leases are up on September 30.
With a massive move to Weston Creek to navigate, Beyond Q is the first to go. However, it’s not without some sadness and a sense of loss for the local residents.
“We’ve got so many people that come in and have expressed their absolute horror at what’s going on,” said Beyond Q owner, Simon Maddox.
“They [the owners] haven’t even got an approval plan to build yet,” he said.
“We’re already seeing a lot of the other people not even in the same block that are making plans to leave because they think the place will change far too much.”
Secretary of the Curtin Residents Association, Chris Johnson, questioned the decision to close the shops given there is no current development application in the works for the area.
“There will be anger among the residents that this is happening but the landlord is showing no good will towards the community because there is no good reason in shutting down now,” Mr Johnson said.
“It’s half the businesses in the square – it’s really quite crucial ones. There’s nothing like the bookshop and the green grocer.
“It’s going to reduce attractiveness and probably reduce the flow of business to the other businesses.”
Mr Johnson said that the shops aren’t just important for Curtin but also for Hughes, Garran and to some extent Yarralumla as it is a group shopping centre.
However, Tania Parkes, who is a spokeswoman for the Haridemos family who own the shops, said the tenants have had 12 to 18 months to make arrangements to leave.
“The owners said right from the beginning that the centre wasn’t commercially viable anymore, so it’s not in their interests to keep it open,” she said.
Ms Parkes said that some of the tenants would be out by the end of September but a few would stay until the end of the year while arrangements were being negotiated to relocate the chemist within the Curtin shops. She said this was because the Haridemos family had committed to ensuring the chemist would remain open in the centre.
Community panel to discuss draft Master Plan
Mr Johnson said the Curtin Residents Association is represented on a community panel which includes community groups, developers and government planners who will be meeting to discuss the draft Curtin Group Centre Master Plan on August 16.
However, he said: “It doesn’t have anything to do with the boarding up of the shops”.
Ms Parkes also said that the Haridemos family are part of the community panel.
“They will wait to see the outcomes before deciding what the next steps will be,” she said.
Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur said she thinks the panel will hold three meetings.
“The idea is to give a space where all sides can explain their point of view,” she said.
“The development of Curtin needs to be something that works for the whole community. It’s really important that the community’s wishes are considered in this.
“It’s very important that the community and the shop owners come together and consider a future that is good for the whole of Curtin.”
A moving experience
Meanwhile, Mr Maddox will open his bookshop in Curtin for the last time this Sunday before undergoing a six week process of relocating about 10 minutes’ drive away to a place across the road from Cooleman Court in Weston Creek, where a nursery used to be.
“It’s going to cost us close to $200,000 to move and fit out the new space,” Mr Maddox said.
On the bright side, Beyond Q has received great support from the community, with 45 volunteers offering to help with the move.
Mr Maddox hopes his customers will follow the store to its new location but says mobility issues will be a problem for some of them.
And he is planning for the new store to be bigger and better, with an upstairs cafe/wine bar and a fine and rare room which will house attractive books dating back to the 1600s.
“We are doing things in the new place that we wouldn’t be able to do here,” he said.
Beyond Q opened in Curtin about 14 years ago and has developed a sizable following during that time.
Mr Maddox said the bookshop has hosted around 4,000 music events since it opened, hosts an ‘Arts Underground’ event every month, holds around 100 community events a year, has been the venue for 45 book launches and acts as a community meeting place.
“It’s a community place, which is the way I’ve always treated it,” said Mr Maddox, who hopes to continue that ethos at the new location.
If you live in Curtin or surrounding areas what do you think about the shops being forced to close/relocate? What effect will this have on the area? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.