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Why we don’t like Manuka Plaza

By V8 Berlina with a three tier spoiler - 25 February 2008 31

On the 26th February, Canberra’s first Starbucks and one of the few remaining original tenants of Manuka Plaza will close. The reason: lack of business and the lease holder preferring to invest in the Brand Depot store rather than renew the lease in Manuka. To me, Starbucks and their imitation brew is no big loss, but this does bring up the question of why we don’t seem to like Manuka Plaza. The Plaza has never been fully leased and most of the original retailers (newsagent, jeweler and Michelles to name a few) have closed down or moved. In fact the once struggling Thai place is now going well right across the street.  The rapid turnaround  of tenants and relatively frequent closures s in contrast to the rest of Manuka. The plaza (now called The Terrace) is currently undergoing its third major reno in the hopes of attracting more people. So, do you like Manuka Plaza? Why isn’t is successful, at least in comparison to the rest of Manuka?

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31 Responses to
Why we don’t like Manuka Plaza
Mælinar 2:48 pm 25 Feb 08

They could do a Dickensian london feel without any great financial outlay, then it’d look cool at least…

ant 2:21 pm 25 Feb 08

The Coles there is actually the best Coles I’ve found! You should see the Qbn one, whopping long lines, and permanently empty shelves.
That development needs more destination/drawcard places in it. If Starbucks can’t make a go of it, that’s pretty indicative. It’s very bare/barren and concretey/tiley, none of the shops are tempting to enter, meccabah seems popular but it’s not flowing over to the rest of the development.
I usually park on Captain Cook in front of those flats, and bypass this Terrace thing to shop at Manuka-proper. Unless I’m going to Coles.

ASP_canberra 1:50 pm 25 Feb 08

I park there all the time because its close to Manuka and under cover. Something about the place though has largely precluded me from shopping or eating there if another option exists. It feels less inviting than the Lanyon Market Place (which has an almost weekly brawl and constant vandalism).

Dave_K 1:49 pm 25 Feb 08

Let me offer a few observations as a residential tenant in the building. It is badly managed and maintained. Car park exit boom gates frequently out of order. Elevators servicing both public and residential areas frequently out of order or operating erratically. Elevators frequently dirty from the remnants of a certain fast food chain’s rubbish. Getting in and out of the building to the apartment levels can be a magical mystery tour at times. Building management generally non responsive to issues raised by tenants, both business and residential. They are either lazy, careless or running low on cash to maintain the facilities properly (or, all of the above). Starbucks is going because their customer traffic did not warrant the rent being demanded. Whatever you think of Starbucks, from a centre management point of view you would have thought they would have done what they could to keep them. For a centre to prosper it needs big names to anchor the retail business. I really wonder how NAB and St George can justify their full-service branches – their foot traffic seems very low from what I’ve seen. The Coles supermarket is perhaps one of the worst I’ve come across in Australia in both lay-out and stock management. Shelves are frequently empty during peak shopping periods. (Not that you can blame that on the centre management, but it just adds to the general sense of abandonment about the place.) I was recently offered an opportunity to buy my apartment. The body corporate fees were at least double those of any other apartment building I looked at, with far less amenity and facilities. That said, apartments seem to rent pretty quickly and no doubt the proximity to the Manuka ‘high life’ is a major factor. (Although some of the real estate pitches promising ‘sophisticated, cafe society living’ are a bit rich. It’s Manuka, after all, and it does get a bit mangy after dusk.)

toriness 12:28 pm 25 Feb 08

i have heard the rent charged is appalling, so a high turnover of shops or large percentage of empty stores makes it unappealing to visit, and it is fricking ugly as.

i do go to the coles manuka for my fortnightly grocery shopping because the carpark beneath makes it convenient in all types of weather and it is a nice store – and this is despite the fact i live inner north (dickson woollies is the worst supermarket on the planet).

emd 11:44 am 25 Feb 08

Losing “necessity” businesses like the newsagent won’t help their cause.

I have been to the supermarket there a few times in the past, but noticed their prices were substantially higher than other supermarkets in Canberra. So I didn’t go back. If their supermarket had the same prices as others, I would have returned which would have meant shopping at other businesses in the plaza too.

RuffnReady 11:30 am 25 Feb 08

I think it’s simple, very little through-traffic, so unless you make the effort to go there you wouldn’t even know what’s up there. Poor design.

Mælinar 10:20 am 25 Feb 08

If their pricing scale weren’t so extreme, they might develop a customer base.

As it stands, they started at the extreme scale, attempting to harness the good foundations laid by the remainder of Manuka, and failed.

Pop in a few more cafe’s, cornerstone the cafe market in Canberra (I’d say its a neat split between Garema Place and Manuka, with Dickson and Kingston bringing up equal shades of close, but not quite), and watch the dollars roll.

neanderthalsis 10:14 am 25 Feb 08

Despite being an almost daily visitor to Manuka, I rarely wander into the realm of the terrace. Occasionally to Coles or the Post Office and the dreaded yearly trip to the dentist, that really is the full extent of it.

I see no real issues apart from its total lack of character and soul.

threeze 10:11 am 25 Feb 08

It’s not a very inviting place to shop.

Crikey 10:09 am 25 Feb 08

There must be something wrong when a newsagent and chemist can not make a dollar at that site. The Post Office’s relocation there was a disgrace.

Should have just built some more luxury apartments on the block with some street level shops.

I here that a Woolies may be built on the car park in Kingston.

Sammy 10:09 am 25 Feb 08

The fact that it’s like a rabbit warren doesn’t help.

RandomGit 9:15 am 25 Feb 08

When I think about what makes Manuka work as a social and shopping mecca, Manuka plaza just sticks out like a boil in contrast.

Duke 9:08 am 25 Feb 08

Yah it’s strange how that place has never taken off. A combination of things I think, mostly narcissistic. You’re kind of hidden away up there – difficult to show off your new designer sunglasses, nobody can see you drive round the block ten times in your shiny racing car. But maybe the other cafes make better coffee?! (I don’t drink coffee)

hingo 8:59 am 25 Feb 08

Because why would you shop among a bunch of uppity wankers when you could shop with bogan?

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