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

Friday, April 07, 2006

Bouncing back

I've mentioned a few closures recently, but it seems that the market for eating, drinking and shopping is still pretty strong, since many of the tenancies are opening up again fairly quickly.

Cordoba Nights at 203 Cuba St closed down a few weeks back, which was no surprise given the signs that had said "Restaurant for urgent sale, contact Rex on ...". I wonder whether the "Rex" in question was the well-known, well-connected (though not universally well-liked in the Cuba quarter) owner of the building? In any case, we'll miss the Sangria, but work started straight away on refitting the interior. There's no real sign as to what it will be, but from the contact names on the "Kitchen hand wanted" signs, there's a fair chance that it'll be an Asian restaurant or café.

The demise of Rouge was rather more spectacular, but it was clear that the site had enough going for it that it wouldn't be empty for long. On April 15th (next Saturday) a new casual Italian restaurant, Scopa, will open in its place. Expect high standards, given that the owner is Remiro Bresolin of Il Casino fame. It's quite possible that it's only a temporary venture, given that it opens just as Il Casino closes for six months of renovation, but with Scopa's location and pedigree they'd have to do something monumentally stupid for it not to be a great success and carry on once big brother is back from its makeover. There's no word yet on whether Kopi and Bouquet Garni are set to get a new lease on life.

Moving on to a slightly different level of Italian food, when La Casa Pasta moved out of the first-floor space at the corner of Dixon and Eva streets, its downstairs companion Diva also shut up shop. The entire building was set to be demolished and replaced by a controversial 14-storey apartment block: despite being one of the oldest buildings in the city, it had never been officially protected as a heritage building. However, the developers got into trouble for advertising apartments for sale before they had resource consent, and while I haven't heard whether the plans were officially abandoned, someone's decided that it's worth opening up again. Work is slowly proceeding into turning both storeys into something called Boss Bar, with a dance-music-oriented nightclub on the ground floor and a karaoke bar above. Rumour has it that the decor will be something quite special, though not perhaps what most would call "good taste".

In the world of retail, it was sad to see long-established Wellington designer Zana Feuchs leave town, but at least the location of her former boutique ZFA won't be empty for long. In the first week of May it will reopen as the Wellington branch of Moochi, a New Zealand womenswear label known almost as much for its striking shop design and lavish opening parties as for its clothes. According to an article at My Wellington, "the collection will be slightly altered to incorporate the distinct atmosphere and flavour of Wellington". I'm not sure what that means, but you can probably expect more black.

Finally, there are a lot of changes underway at the corner of Courtenay Place and Taranaki Street. The historic toilet block will become an underground wine bar, the old Design Zoo space is becoming a Burger Fuel franchise, and the road in between gets the cars kicked out to be turned into a public plaza or park.


At 4:32 pm, April 07, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re the proposed 14 storey tower block: rumoured to have made wind conditions worse in the Te Aro Park, and so it has been canned. Present buildings stay therefore, for the time being at any rate.

Little old buildings behind former Diva are still as original and historic as ever, and still as unprotected as ever.... the last remnants of Wellington when Te Aro Park was a marae....


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