Dear Westenders, The 2013-14 year has continued to see the West End move from strength to strength. In the Western end of the precinct SAHMRI has opened to much fanfare. It is a remarkable building which rightly scooped the pool at this year’s Australian Institute of Architecture Awards. The University of South Australia’s Jeffrey Smart Building has also opened shifting the centre of gravity of city west south onto Hindley Street another amazing building and with the other more contemporary additions to the city west campus is making the West End an architectural tourist hotspot!
The public realm upgrades to Hindley Street around the campus are also complete and it has demonstrated what the future of Hindley could be like. In years to come this part of the city in December will be a sea of purple flowers from the Jacaranda Trees who’d have thought this 5 years ago?..flower trees on Hindley Street! A touch of civility long overdue in this part of the city. As I write this I am watching students lying down taking the sun on the lawns abutting the street…people lying down on Hindley Street..for the right reasons! We look forward obviously to this sort of upgrade being extended east and west but to the detractors of our precinct who have often suggested that we should blow up Hindley and start again..come and have a look at the future!..its a remarkable metamorphosis.
The transformation of Adelaide Oval and the completion of the footbridge sees thousands of Football fans streaming into our precinct as predicted providing existing business with a new market and providing a market for new business, the atmosphere before and after the game is really exciting and I look forward to what new ideas arise to caterer for Adelaide Oval patrons in the future. The New RAH looms larger and larger at the end of West Terrace, the Convention centre Extension towers over the Morphett Street Bridge and we await SAHMRI 2, and the two new University buildings on the northern side of North Terrace one already cheekily promoted by Adelaide with a huge billboard directly across the road from UniSA always a pleasure to watch competition in action! Things are changing rapidly.
Two other changes which are breathing new life into our precinct are the lock in and the small venue license. These are game changers. The Small Venue License has provided entrepreneurial people of all ages with the opportunity to open a small business in the precinct and this is rapidly changing the hospitality landscape in the area.
We are seeing a much broader demographic coming into the west and this only bodes well for the future. The atmosphere around Peel, Leigh, Anster and Waymouth Street on the weekends is fabulous and points to a new direction based on quality rather than just hours of trade that hopefully will reignite the precinct on weeknights as well.
The lock in from all the statistics from both SAPOL and the Royal Adelaide Hospital is certainly having the desired effect on curbing late night (early morning really) violence. For me though, the really important effect of this legislation is to create a more amenable atmosphere for day time trade in the precinct. Its early days yet but with the existing traders are reporting a marked drop off of the incidents in the morning which used to inhibit their trade. Some in formally notorious ‘hotspot’ locations are report no incidents..and that’s remarkable given the problems they have long endured. The sky hasn’t fallen in for Hindley Street, young people are still going out in droves and still partying on Hindley street, they are working out when and how to move around the precinct and we are finally getting what the precinct has needed for decades a break between the night and the day trade so both have the opportunity to properly carry out their businesses. This is great result thus far.
We are seeing wins in other areas as well, Topham Mall is finally on the radar for council, we have long bemoaned the poor state of this space, it’s a dark and dangerous space currently but we look forward to the outcomes of the placemaking pilot in that area..for one it would great to see more made of the Council‘s archive, an amazing repository of history and a museum of Adelaide in miniature..the city really deserves to see more of its treasures!
Lots of wins, but the challenges remain. Light Square remains a sorry space and with the demolition of the skate park the West End now has a total of zero spaces for free outdoor leisure. Think about it; the parklands are either developed to the north or separated from the community to the west by a major arterial road.. Light Square is our only green space and the growing student, worker and residential population deserve better amenity in this space. Over the next 12 months we will be putting forward ideas for the rejuvenation of this somewhat unloved space and we welcome your comments and contributions.
Growing the daytime economy in Hindley Street remains a significant challenge. What would a retail model look like for Hindley Street in 2014? How could building owners and business in general develop a retail culture that builds on the amazingly long lived business like Imprints, Quiet Waters, Cacas Chemists, Marcellina’s and Leigh Street Luggage, just to name a few? Council may well have the answer but curiously they are not letting the rest of us know.
Will we be able to have access to the City’s retail strategy any time soon? It seems preposterous that what we presume is an excellent strategy prepared by Mayoral candidate Martin Haese and his colleagues has been sat on for so long when actually it could be the foundation for planning by the community to revitalise what was once a thriving multicultural retail and hospitality environment.
On that note it has come time for me to let you know that I am standing aside as President of The Adelaide West End Association. It is time for a new generation to take the helm and lead our community towards what is looking like a very exciting future. I would like to thank all of the progressive, proactive members of our community who have supported me over the last 5-6 years and would like at this point to acknowledge the hard work of our coordinator, Helen Page and the fine people who have volunteered so much of their time and energy through membership of our executive. I’ve loved (almost) every moment of it, learned a lot and met some fantastic people. We have an amazing community and it’s been nothing other than a privilege to be involved with our future.
We are the West End!
Andrew Wallace – Immediate Past President
All images © Helen Page Photography