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Iconic bookshop closes as death knell starts to sound on block of Curtin shops

By Glynis Quinlan - 11 August 2017 8

Beyond Q opens its doors in Curtin for the last time this Sunday, before relocating to Weston Creek. Photo supplied by Beyond Q.

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.

The bookstore in Curtin will move to new premises in Weston Creek. Photo supplied by Beyond Q.

“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.

An image of the ground floor of the new Beyond Q bookstore in Weston Creek. Image supplied by the bookstore.

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.

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8 Responses to
Iconic bookshop closes as death knell starts to sound on block of Curtin shops
ExTransACT 11:52 am 18 Aug 17

Moving is never fun but looking at those photos I seriously doubt there is $200,000 worth of ‘fitout’ there.
I support a redevelopment of the shops, they are old and dingy and the electrics down there are a fire hazard.
A knock-down / rebuild would be the only viable way to improve that area.
I understand there is also a development proposal going around for the redevelopment and expansion of the Statesman Hotel area and the adjoining carpark. What is the status of that? It could really modernise and improve the whole precinct.

chrisJ 12:16 pm 13 Aug 17

I’m not against development in the best place for it. It doesn’t take much imagination to keep the Curtin central square commercial – residential accommodation and buildings taller than 2 storeys are a good fit for Curtin – just set them well back from the central sunny square. The residents don’t want to keep out new people and new businesses – but you don’t need to destroy the character and of the square to do that.

bigred 10:06 pm 12 Aug 17

OLydia said :

What is the parking like at Cooleman Court on a week day, particularly across the road where the bookshop will be relocating? The last time I was in the area I took 15 mins to find parking. It seems that Cooleman Court area has become a commuter car park for people catching buses to Woden and Civic.

In one word ‘scarce’. The whole area is infested with cashed up retirees who should use their free bus travel. But, the parking areas are rarely seen by parking patrols so it is open slather. Just leave it on the footpath or in the taxi rank if a regular spot is not available.

A_Cog 11:25 pm 11 Aug 17

… and, why can others grow equity (in the homes the own) or incomes (in their career advancement or small business growth), but others like the Haridemos family can’t do it, even when it is in a way that is sustainable?

They’re not the enemy. Why isn’t Andrew Barr ensuring an institution like Beyond Q lands on its feet and fulfills its dreams? Is the broader Curtin community actually suggesting that the Haridemos family should just pay through the nose for the pleasure of owning the old building, but everyone else can improve their lot – which involves nothing changing, no local response to climate change, or helping young families have their own home to own and group up and old in, or young people get a chance to buy and grow equity too?

Even Rattenbury owns multiple properties, coz what’s wrong with advancing your self and becoming better off through working towards a goal (except his party is against negative gearing, oops, so what is le Couter doing anywhere near this issue?)

OMG, the world around us changes – and it better had, coz there’s more and more of us ever year, what with people moving to Canberra, getting jobs, climbing the career ladder, meeting a great partner, having kids, and buying a nice home in a nice quiet suburb to raise your children as best you can… let’s pick a ‘burb with, say 85% houses and only 12% flats (btw, WHEN ARE the 2016 ABS stats really coming out, not this dribble so far?!?), maybe somewhere like Cutrin!

So it was alright for people who moved to Curtin in the last 20 years to do well and live peacefully, but no more? Is what’s really going on here actually the comfy classes version of “get lost, we’re full?”

A_Cog 11:09 pm 11 Aug 17

I feel for the Haridemos family. They own an old building with commercial ground floor use. If you think current building standards are weak, imagine them in the 1960s, when much of Canberra was built in a hurry. The family want to fix it up, coz every year it costs more money to maintain. But if they’re gonna fix it up, it makes more sense to entirely rebuild the commercial space and continue to provide a centre of commerce and necessity for local residents, but also take the chance to add some residential dwellings above. House prices have boomed for nearly 20 years (household debt : GDP), and after this 20 years, the housing crisis arrives, no surprise! In that 20 years, people who were able to buy homes (like many Curtin residents) have all made out very nicely. They’re equity rich, and if they sold up and moved to the coast or the country, they’d have a tidy nest-egg left over. So they’ve been winners, and that’s ok.

And if some of those local residents have been entrepreneurs or self employed, running their own small services firm, or a consultancy, even a loose business where employment is intermittent but they like what they do, they may have tried to grow their business. More money always helps, so nothing wrong with that either.

But when this family tries to advance their interests, they get attacked.

No-one lives near the shops, and what’s wrong if the DA got up? It’d ease the housing crisis (ALP and Lib policy, and necessary), support those local businesses downstairs (all three parties, and sensible), grow infill to densify ahead of climate change (two visionary Greens policies!). How is it right for the community to dictate how this family improves their capital?

CanberraStreets 3:46 pm 11 Aug 17

I’m with Christopher S Tuckwe on being ambivalent the move. It is very sad for Curtin shops and the surrounding residents, but Coleman Court may well be a better location for Beyond Q, but golly $200k is a large relocation cost

OLydia 2:12 pm 11 Aug 17

What is the parking like at Cooleman Court on a week day, particularly across the road where the bookshop will be relocating? The last time I was in the area I took 15 mins to find parking. It seems that Cooleman Court area has become a commuter car park for people catching buses to Woden and Civic.

Christopher S Tuckwe 12:19 pm 11 Aug 17

I have mixed feeling about the move of the bookshop, as I’ve been patronising it over the years, and have enjoyed the ambience of the shop in its current location. But… the new location is closer to my place so it will be easier to visit, so I will probably go more often.

I think the bookshop will do better being located at the Coolaman shops, but the other shops at Curtin will likely be worse off.

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