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Plans for the Aranda Shops

By Heather Lansdowne - 29 September 2014 21

It’s about time the Aranda shops received a little bit of love.

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Aranda residents know all too well that the local shops have failed to live up to their potential in recent years. Well over a decade ago, the family-run supermarket was forced to close due to the competition created by the Coles at Jamison. Since that time, the Jamison shopping centre has been developed further, now boasting an Aldi and new food and retail outlets. This has perhaps made it even harder for the small restaurants that have at times operated from the back of the shops to survive.

Despite this, Two Before Ten café owner Chris Dennis is determined to activate and revitalise the Aranda shops, creating a number of new spaces and offerings for the community to enjoy.

Since the current Two Before Ten premises at Canberra House is being redeveloped by the Morris Property group, Chris was seeking a new location when he learned about the opportunity at the Aranda shops through the owners, who are regulars at the café.

Rather than using the land to develop town-houses, the owners were more interested in creating a local precinct that would benefit the community, and Chris was in full agreement. “Since we opened six years ago, we had a vision of doing something in the suburbs, and in the Belconnen area there’s not much in the way of boutique coffee shops”, explains Chris.

He’s taken out a long-term master lease on whole block, and plans to commence a number of ventures on site over the comings months and years.

Two before Ten will move upstairs, and a room next door (dubbed “The Library”) will provide a space with free wifi for people to study, read or work. A gallery and community event space are also in the works, while a Provedore boutique supermarket, restaurant/pub and kitchen garden are possibilities for late 2014 to mid 2015.

“The motivation behind the whole precinct is bringing people together. Rather than just dumping in businesses that we think will make money, it’s about having community spaces that can enhance and exhibit the community’s work”, says Chris.

He is also looking to engage the University of Canberra design department to revitalise the space, while still retaining the famous “ugly” brown exterior (as originally designed by architect Dirk Bolt.)

Chris has been in talks with the Aranda Residents Group and Belconnen Community Group, but is keen to hear more ideas. “The Aranda community’s so passionate about those shops, so I also want to give them some input into the re-development process”.

Let us know your thoughts and ideas on the planned changes to the Aranda shops below.

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21 Responses to
Plans for the Aranda Shops
Aeek 11:04 pm 10 Oct 14

Awesome, I wonder if some office space + after pre-school drop off trade will get them through the week.
Weekends, Ricardo’s are good but so packed so an alternative will be nice.

Ben_Dover 7:17 am 02 Oct 14

watto23 said :

screaming banshee said :

Decent coffee after 3pm anywhere would be a godsend

Yes +10000. When I travel the globe coffee shops seem to stay open til 9-10pm. In Canberra even though opening hours are not restricted, even 4pm is difficult to get a coffee.

Canberra’s not boring though, honest.

JC 8:06 pm 01 Oct 14

watto23 said :

I understand costs are high, but I’d have though decent coffee shops would make money after hours.
They seem to be packed with people using free wifi just about everywhere I visit. Then again wifi is extortionately priced here too….

True, but not in isolated suburban shopping centres like Aranda! They need other things to attract people in the first place.

dungfungus 6:13 pm 01 Oct 14

watto23 said :

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

watto23 said :

It seems in Canberra opening for work hours is when they make money and then it becomes all too hard after that.

Canberra one of the wealthiest cities in one of the world’s wealthiest countries. The cost of labour is high, and business owners need to run things so they make a profit.

Of course, I also really enjoy being able to shop, eat and be entertained at hours that would seem strange here, which is one of the reasons I holiday OS like yourself.

I understand costs are high, but I’d have though decent coffee shops would make money after hours.
They seem to be packed with people using free wifi just about everywhere I visit. Then again wifi is extortionately priced here too….

Canberrans are certainly obsessed by coffee shops (judging by the number of threads on them on RiotAct).
They are really not the scene in the ‘burbs however and there are no large employers in the Aranda area. Few coffee shops (and greasy spoon type takeaways) stay open after hours outside the trendy precincts.

dungfungus 6:09 pm 01 Oct 14

John Moulis said :

That’s the back of Aranda shops? Looks very much like the back of Torrens Shops. No doubt about it, the old NCDC was very much into cookie cutter architecture in the late 1960s.

There was a good “chew and spew” (Chinese Restaurant) at Aranda in the early 1980s.

watto23 2:15 pm 01 Oct 14

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

watto23 said :

It seems in Canberra opening for work hours is when they make money and then it becomes all too hard after that.

Canberra one of the wealthiest cities in one of the world’s wealthiest countries. The cost of labour is high, and business owners need to run things so they make a profit.

Of course, I also really enjoy being able to shop, eat and be entertained at hours that would seem strange here, which is one of the reasons I holiday OS like yourself.

I understand costs are high, but I’d have though decent coffee shops would make money after hours.
They seem to be packed with people using free wifi just about everywhere I visit. Then again wifi is extortionately priced here too….

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 12:52 pm 30 Sep 14

watto23 said :

It seems in Canberra opening for work hours is when they make money and then it becomes all too hard after that.

Canberra one of the wealthiest cities in one of the world’s wealthiest countries. The cost of labour is high, and business owners need to run things so they make a profit.

Of course, I also really enjoy being able to shop, eat and be entertained at hours that would seem strange here, which is one of the reasons I holiday OS like yourself.

watto23 11:13 am 30 Sep 14

screaming banshee said :

Decent coffee after 3pm anywhere would be a godsend

Yes +10000. When I travel the globe coffee shops seem to stay open til 9-10pm. In Canberra even though opening hours are not restricted, even 4pm is difficult to get a coffee. Having a coffee shop/cafe open late-ish also helps supermarkets next door, because people come for a coffee or meal, and grab some groceries next door before heading home.

It seems in Canberra opening for work hours is when they make money and then it becomes all too hard after that.

John Moulis 10:29 am 30 Sep 14

That’s the back of Aranda shops? Looks very much like the back of Torrens Shops. No doubt about it, the old NCDC was very much into cookie cutter architecture in the late 1960s.

screaming banshee 7:18 pm 29 Sep 14

Decent coffee after 3pm anywhere would be a godsend

JC 6:21 pm 29 Sep 14

AliG40 said :

As someone who worked for Ken and Beau for many years at the Aranda shops I can say that the shop did not fail because it did not know its customers! On the contrary, Coles determining to open 24/7 had a major impact on many small suburban shops in Canberra! I believe there were other issues at play also! Regardless, this sounds like a great thing for Aranda and I wish everyone involved every success! I hope it pans out! Good luck!

Obviously if people started to go elsewhere then they needed a reason. Just because a shop goes 24 hour trading doesn’t mean the customers will go if they are being given what they want. After all it is the customers that make the choice, not the evil Woolworths or Coles.

Holden Caulfield 3:29 pm 29 Sep 14

Ooh, a “precinct” sounds terribly exciting! Perhaps it could also be a “hub”, even better a hub-precinct.

Seriosuly, though, cheap Utopia references aside, it would be very cool if this idea is a roaring success. All the best to Chris and whoever else is on board.

AliG40 2:38 pm 29 Sep 14

As someone who worked for Ken and Beau for many years at the Aranda shops I can say that the shop did not fail because it did not know its customers! On the contrary, Coles determining to open 24/7 had a major impact on many small suburban shops in Canberra! I believe there were other issues at play also! Regardless, this sounds like a great thing for Aranda and I wish everyone involved every success! I hope it pans out! Good luck!

TLady 1:10 pm 29 Sep 14

Please, please, please factor in disability access.

We can call it mobility access, mobility friendly, mobility aware but whatever we choose to name a basic access consideration, please think about how this development could make a big different to those of us that need a few more options gaining access to great eateries.

I’m really looking forward to the innovative ideas that could be factored into this new boutique café precinct.

JC 11:33 am 29 Sep 14

Sure the family owned supermarket was forced to close from competition at Coles Jamison? I mean to say there has been a Coles at Jamison since the shopping centre was first build so why all of a sudden did it become an issue?

More than likely it failed because peoples shopping habits changed and the Supermarket did not keep up. Nothing but pure ignorance and a cheap shop blaming Coles (and Woolworths)

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