marcus westbury

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Does anyone in Newcastle have vacant real estate?

April 8th, 2008 by marcus

Apparently not.

I’ve long been advocating a more enlightened approach to liquor licensing in NSW and particularly in my home town of Newcastle. I’m convinced (and convinced i can convince most people) that a more diverse culture (and i mean everything from punk venues to jazz clubs) of drinking, dining, music, art and entertainment is a missing catalyst for the rejuvenation of Newcastle’s CBD. It’s also a big part of the way out of the worst elements of Newcastle’s culture of violent dickheadiness that has been the subject of much debate lately.

Late last year, after years of lobbying and complaining the NSW government finally relented and introduced legislation that allows for smaller cultural bars and performance venues and not just poker machine stuffed binge barns. Both the Raise The Bar campaign and Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore cited an episode of Not Quite Art in their campaign for a saner approach in NSW.

NQA thumb
Part of that episode is here.

Now all this meant that I was pretty keen to get something happening. I immediately began doing some groundwork to see if i could put my money where my mouth has been with a plan to get such a place off the ground in Newcastle. After all, it’s not as though it would be hard to find venues with all the vacant real estate.

It turns out that maybe Newcastle is vacant because of the incompetent Real Estate industry?

Initially I contacted 13 separate Commercial Real Estate Agents in Newcastle via email seeking information about potential properties to lease. I gave them a price range (at the medium to high end of the asking price for most Newcastle commercial property), preferred but flexible locations, specific indications of what i was looking for and multiple contact details. I also indicated that i was willing to pay for some capital improvements and fly to Newcastle to inspect any properties that might be likely candidates. Given the incredibly dire state of the commercial property market in Newcastle, i even had some concerns that i might be a little run off my feet with phone calls.

I needn’t have worried.

It’s now 3 month later (and despite supplementing this with numerous enquiries about specific properties) and the total number of properties i have been encouraged to look at thus far is nil. The total number of phone calls received is nil. The total number of “thanks but we don’t have anything for you at the moment” emails is nil. Indeed, the total amount of communication from anyone in the Newcastle Real Estate industry is nil.

You know who you are CB Richard Ellis. Colliers Newcastle, Creer Property, Jones Lang LaSalle, Knight Frank, PRD Naitonwide, Street Real Estate, Ray White Commercial, Castle Realty, Dowling Real Estate, Realty Partners John Karmas, and Four Walls Commercial.

Meanwhile, if you are a frustrated property owner, maybe you could contact me directly and we can compare notes.

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6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Nicholas Roberts Apr 8, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    I think you will find its actually tax law that allows property owners to keep places vacant. Socialism for the rich and free markets for the poor. i.e. you cant find a place to rent for a cultural enterprise, while the landlords can claim deducations etc for vacant properties.

  • 2 admin Apr 8, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    That’s actually true Nick. Will probably be the subject of a future post – particularly the comparison with the UK.

  • 3 keri Apr 17, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    I’d love Newcastle to have a Chinatown in the CBD, a big cheap yum cha as an alternative to the petite bourgeois restaurants at the foreshore and Darby St – even Canberra has Dixon.

    Instead, in the Newcastle CBD, people are now being evicted to make way for another shopping mall (and some neo-colonial spanish steps?). It’s so not a shopping mall CBD, it’s on a peninsula so there’ll be traffic congestion.

    And how cool if there were some DIY bars and kitchens set up in the empty real estate. Some of these enterprises might be economically viable if cheap rent was offered – we need a stack of start up grants to locals for hole in the wallers.

  • 4 john mccann Nov 1, 2010 at 11:13 am

    just saw this post, that’s unbelievable. That should have been a herald story – I’m sure Aaron Kearney at 1233 would give this story some legs.. . The CBD would work a lot better as an entertainment and eating district than what it is now…. 2 dollar shops, fast food chains, pharmacies, news agents, medicare, low end cloth. It’s a mix that doesn’t really work for anyone. China town, bars, brothels, tattoo parlors, cafes – would be great if there were all in one place instead of littered throughout the city.

  • 5 marcus Nov 1, 2010 at 11:18 am

    @John. This is a very old post. This is from early 2008.

    It is actually a precursor to the establishment of Renew Newcastle – the realisation that the city wasn’t empty because no one wanted to do anything but because there was a dysfunction set of incentives at work that meant people weren’t seriously trying to rent a lot of the spaces. They were worth more as tax deductions than as going concerns.

    Hence: Renew Newcastle. It acts as intermediary so as to get around those issues. 60 projects and 30 or more once empty buildings late i’d like to think we’ve proved the point.

  • 6 john walker Nov 1, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    The wide disparities in the way different forms of’ income’ are taxed and the market failures that this has created, was the heart of the Henry review. WE have created a incentive to turn personal/company income into capital gains income- even if at an apparent loss- ‘it is worth it from a tax point of view’ .

    Much of the the background forces that have lead to the current ‘housing affordability crisis’ come down to the sad truth that a loss making capital gains project is a very effective way of legally minimizing personal tax.