WellUrban

Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Chews update


Hush Puppies open at Chews LaneThe seemingly endless Chews Lane project took a small but significant step the other day with the opening of Hush Puppies. While I'd be more likely to frequent it if it sold the eponymous deep-fried balls of cornmeal and jalapeño rather than shoes, it marks a milestone because it's the first retail unit to open in the new buildings.

The other shops in that building look close to completion too, and that was confirmed by a recent newspaper article stating that all the Willis St retail will be open by Christmas, though that looks a bit optimistic for the southern building. I haven't heard any more about the two units that were just identified as "Fashion" on the most recent retail plan, so apart from the relocated Staxs, Area 51 and Farry's, and two places (Identity and Vincent) that I'll probably be revealing my fashion ignorance by saying that I've never heard of, it's hard to tell whether there's anything particularly exciting to look forward to.

The building itself is not looking that exciting either, at least not on the Willis St side. On the Victoria St side, the stepped-out façade and slightly unexpected angles at the upper levels look set to bring a subtle liveliness to the street. Here, though, on what should be the more public face of the project, it looks like the architects have only been let loose on the verandah, while the rest of the west elevation was designed by accountants. It's still a bit early to judge the complex as a whole, however, and when the apartment levels are eventually constructed above the office floors, perhaps the plainness of the latter will look more like well-judged restraint than a lack of imagination.

What I am looking forward to is the food and drink outlets planned for the lane itself. These will take a while longer, though the aforementioned article promised that they'll be ready in time for The Sevens at the start of February. So far, there have been promises of yet-to-be-named sushi and espresso bars (what are the odds that the latter will be a Mojo?), plus the "Gastro Bar" identified earlier on. The one name that was mentioned in the article was Simply Paris, who have been gradually taking over the city with their delicious patisserie, and will be opening a branch in Chews Lane. Some people will sigh at the prospect of another individual shop expanding into a chain, but I for one am looking forward to the prospect of Merguez sausage baguettes, absinthe cocktails and rich cassoulet making their way into other parts of the city.

4 Comments:

At 9:50 AM, November 20, 2007, Anonymous Toby said...

"The... project took a small but significant step the other day with the opening of Hush Puppies."

This could be a world first for Welly--has the opening of a Hush Puppies ever before been considered significant? Good on the Chews people for such trailblazing!

I joke.

I agree about the Willis St facade. There's something a little Stepford-like about the even retail boxes too, although that might change as they fill.

Simply Paris! Magnifique. I had that cassoulet the other day--my goodness me. I couldn't get to the end, but that has simply steeled my resolve to return for a second round.

 
At 10:03 AM, November 20, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

"has the opening of a Hush Puppies ever before been considered significant?"

Yes, I definitely could have worded that better! I shouldn't try to simultaneously blog and watch FotC :-) As I should have made clearer, it's only significant because it's the first sign of life in the brand-new buildings: all of the other new and re-opened retail has been in refurbished buildings.

"I agree about the Willis St facade. There's something a little Stepford-like about the even retail boxes too, although that might change as they fill."

I hope so too, and maybe when the horizontal fins go on the top floor of the building the bland curtain wall in between that and the verandah will seem more acceptable in context. But in these ESD-conscious days, should we really be building sealed glass boxes when natural ventilation and double-skin façades are becoming the norm? Even something relatively undemonstrative like the DoC building would have been better, and I'd have liked the building to step back gradually on each floor to balance the stepping out on Victoria St.

"Simply Paris! Magnifique. I had that cassoulet the other day--my goodness me. I couldn't get to the end, but that has simply steeled my resolve to return for a second round."

Actually, I have to admit I've never eaten their cassoulet, but a noted carnophile friend of mine has done and rates it very highly. I thought the cassoulet at Le Metropolitain was delicious, but Che's had both and says that SP wins hands down. I have tried their andouillete, and enjoyed that immensely, though I'm glad I didn't look up the ingredients until the next day!

 
At 10:36 AM, November 20, 2007, Anonymous monsieur de boeuf said...

oh god, no, not andouillete...

there's worse things than just stomach linings in there. i had one in france and there were all sorts of briefly cooked and still recognisable parts of animals in there... i didn't look too close as i was being sick at the time, but i think cows lip, pigs ear, sheep fanny etc. too hideous to contemplate.

i'll stick with a almond croissant thanks

 
At 9:02 PM, November 21, 2007, Anonymous Toby said...

I have sampled a friend's Metropolitain cassoulet, and while it was nice, it lacked Simply Paris's punch.

And, er, I have had cassoulet in Cassoulet you know, yes, *cough*...

 

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