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