For generations, Kings Cross has been a lively and cosmopolitan place. In recent years, its reputation as a great place to go at night, coupled with the growth of beer barns and strip joints, gave rise to street violence and a deteriorating quality for residents and those who wanted to enjoy all else it offers.
We're gradually winning back the lost ground and the growth of new and varied businesses here is helping us do that. So while lock-out laws have had a harsh effect on many businesses, we're seeing real growth and excitement in the area.
Just in this past week alone, I launched the Food Lover's Guide to the area, attended the first birthday of the Hayes Theatre Company and unveiled the City's renovation of the Kings Cross Library.
Launching the first Food Lover's Guide to Kings Cross, Potts Point and Surrounds
Launching the first Food Lover's Guide to Kings Cross, Potts Point and Surrounds provided a good opportunity to reflect on the wonderful dining options in offer in the area. Sydney as a whole enjoys a wonderful reputation as food-lovers' heaven and it's fascinating to watch this area evolve as a premier destination.
The City has worked hard to enhance the character of Kings Cross and foster an environment where foodie culture can flourish. Our work at Llankelly Place paved the way (literally!) for a whole new dining lane way. The organic markets are held every Saturday in Fitzroy Gardens and there are great small bars like Old Growler and the Roosevelt. These join hatted restaurants, coffee shops and much more.
I've always been a keen supporter of small bars, cafes, restaurants and fresh food markets. They make a very substantial contribution to the Sydney economy. And just as importantly, they add immeasurably to the variety, vitality and delight of city living.
I encourage you to pick up a copy of the guide (or read it online by clicking here) and discover new and delicious experiences, even if you think you're already familiar with the neighbourhood.
Happy first birthday, Hayes Theatre
When Darlinghurst Theatre moved to our newly created Eternity Playhouse, we looked for a new life for the building. Many people in the local community, and in the performing arts, urged us to keep it as a theatre and in 2011, Council endorsed my recommendation that we retain the building as a theatre and find the best management model for it.
In just one year, Hayes Theatre â€” the successful applicant â€” has given us no less than eight main-stage productions and more than 21 cabaret productions, playing to over 25,000 audience members. But it's not just about the numbers: the venue has established its reputation on the sheer verve and quality of its work, whether it's a re-imagined classic, a new work from Australia or overseas, or a production designed for children.
Liberals in state government and on Council often criticise the City for holding on to assets like this theatre space. If they had their way, the City would sell off all its buildings and land. But maintaining our creative spaces ensures diversity in our community, and is a key reason Sydney is recognised internationally for its cultural life, just as it is already recognised for its natural beauty.
Find out more about the Hayes Theatre here.
Renovation of Kings Cross Library complete
Last week I unveiled the City's $1.2 million renovation of Kings Cross Library. Opening a new second level has transformed the library into a modern, hi-tech space with new computers, wi-fi lounge area and facilities for adult learning.
The new floor will also be used for popular library programs, such as Late Night Library, Authors up the Cross, film screenings, children's story time readings and adult digital media education courses. Details of up-coming events can be found at: http://www.coslibrary.eventbrite.com.au/
There are no books on the new floor. Instead, it offers lounges and comfortable seating with power points for personal devices and Wi-Fi, as well as tables and chairs with power points for laptops.
There's an increased number of PCs for public use and for those who need it, an IT training room with space for 16 learners.
There is also a meeting room, a function area with space for 50 people, a display area and an art hanging system with historical photographs.
The new level 2 at Kings Cross Library provides:
- Lounge chairs and seating with power points for personal devices and wi-fi use;
- Tables and chairs with power points for reading and laptop or device use;
- A bank of PCs with free internet access;
- Meeting room;
- IT training room for computer classes;
- Function area with space for 50 people;
- Space for magazines, newspapers and community notices; and
- Exhibition and art hanging space.
Libraries are a wonderful community resource and, with their ever-broadening scope of activities, they can also be a wonderful way of building and strengthening a sense of community.
Since I've been Mayor, we've given a lot of attention to our libraries including commissioning the award-winning Surry Hills Library, and most recently, holding a design competition for the Green Square Library and Plaza that will give us a stunning new library and public space in this fast-developing area.
I hope this refurbishment of the Kings Cross Library will help it meet the needs of this great community for many years to come.
The City of Sydney has a serious commitment to making Kings Cross a safer and more inviting place at night and we will continue to work and support the work of others breathing fresh new into the area.