Oxford Street could become a thriving cultural quarter with artists living and working out of creative industry incubators, after Council adopted the recommendations of my Lord Mayoral Minute setting out new directions for the strip between Hyde Park and South Dowling Street in Darlinghurst.
Oxford Street is one of our great and best known streets and we're committed to building on its international reputation as an iconic gay and lesbian precinct and a centre of intense night time activity. The City has met with local Darlinghurst business owners in a round table, and my recommendation to Council focuses on actions to revitalise our properties and improve transport.
Artists living and working in an area brings life, creativity and a bohemian feel - and with that comes new retail and hospitality offerings, a more diverse crowd and benefits for the local economy. We don't want to see artists, creative industries and quirky businesses forced out of the city due to high rents, so we are looking at what we can do with our commercial retail space.
The City owns properties on Oxford Street, and Council is now exploring options to support the creative industries, including plans to use its properties as workspaces or make them available to artists in residence.
The City will shift away from leasing out a row of Council-owned shops 56-122 Oxford Street for short term financial returns and instead activate these retail spaces for emerging artists and innovative start-up businesses. By developing a cluster of imaginative and inspired small businesses and arts studios, we hope to see the birth of a 'creative industry incubator' which would be a managed workspace where artists can also be exposed to the inspiring work of people around them.
Similar approaches have worked successfully in other cities.
My minute also proposed that the City continue to investigate the proposal for a mid-range boutique hotel at 110-122 Oxford Street and we continue to advocate on traffic improvements to Oxford Street.
Council has previously put a lot of work into establishing a food, grocery and services retail centre in our properties at 56-76 Oxford Street. This proposal has not proceeded partly because of the global financial crisis and partly because other operators are already meeting the local community's demand for groceries and fresh produce.
Any vision for this area needs to be developed in consultation with private property and business owners in the area, so we are also proposing to host a forum to gather ideas from the Oxford Street community.
- Click HERE to view my Lord Mayoral Minute.