This month the sale of the former Peter’s Ice Cream/ABSOE site for +$40m is slated for settlement. The buyer is Sydney company PAYCE Consolidated. Many Westenders greeted the news with a sense of imminent foreboding.
However there is a chance to dream big. Let your imagination match the size of the site. It’s big. Over 2.6 hectares in total area.
With four street frontages, the long presence on Boundary Street is unique. It’s this aspect of the redevelopment that is of interest.
In repeated community consultations the independent retail mix of Boundary Street is cited as a defining characteristic of West End. Many religiously support local shops. There have even been successful protests and effective boycotts of inappropriate business behavior or proposals over the years.
Council requires that any future development will include a mix of retail and commercial options. There is a significant chance to extend that diverse, independent retail options along into the redeveloper site.
There are many examples around the world where former-industrial sites have been adapted to extend wonderful neighbourhoods.
The challenge is now with the community, PAYCE Consolidated and Council to achieve an acceptable design solution.
The community’s support for an extension of that independent retail mix is assured however the ball is in the developer’s hands, for now.
There is also a chance to create the civic centre that West End has always deserved. By observing Council’s requirements for the new park on Boundary Street plus meeting the additional requirement for 20% publicly accessible land there is great opportunity to make that civic heart a reality.
This will take vision from new owners PAYCE Consolidated and good judgment from City Council. There is merit in reaching out for the best ideas by commissioning an open design contest.
Creating a new civic space around the new park along Boundary Street has the potential to change the street’s centre-of-gravity.
It’s a prospect that carries great responsibility and risk. It will need goodwill and patience.
Today, as you look at the location of the new park, you can almost see the surrounding lanes and envision a cluster of new stores and small, regular retailers such as bakers, homewares, a butcher and dry goods provider. One thing is certain-West End needs more coffee shops like a hole in the head, so lets give that trope a miss just this once.
Boundary Street retail is about to move northwards, in a big way.