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

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Shops that pass in the night 9

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Capital on the Quay: logoCapital on the Quay has always been a strange beast: an attempt to shoehorn a suburban mall onto a steep slope between Wellington's densest streets, combined with the entrances to several office blocks and a number of quasi-public elevators that provided savvy locals with shortcuts between Lambton Quay and the Terrace. The ground level tenancies kept true to the mall ethos, playing host to the sort of chain stores that can afford the rentals on a high-foot-traffic thoroughfare. Some of the quieter first floor spaces weren't so financially successful, however, and among the usual optometrists and beauty salons there were usually a few vacant shops, temporary sale spaces and a smattering of quirkier, more interesting businesses. To some extent, it and other "failed" malls play the role that Jane Jacobs attributed to old buildings: a cheap space that allows economically marginal businesses to get started.

But things are changing, at least in the northern section. Leases came to an end, and some of the aforementioned small retailers moved out. Sherazad bridal silks moved just down the road, to the basement of the BNZ centre (another off-street CBD mall that's become a refuge for displaced small businesses). The Guava Tree, Llew's favourite purveyor of Indian kitchenware and Bollywood goodness, has moved further afield to Ghuznee St to take over from a Chinese furniture shop whose name often evoked sniggers. Cheekily-acronymed salon Beauty In The Creative Hand has also shifted, moving in with Si Salon down in Hunter St. What's going on?

Capital on the Quay - building workLeases end all the time, but this is different. All the chain stores (such as Colorado and Portmans) have also gone from the ground floor, and some of the empty shops briefly displayed signs saying things like "Our landlord, AMP, has other plans for this site". Those plans appear to be major, since the entire ground and first floors of that section have been boarded off, and the jackhammers have been busy ripping up the ground floor tiles around the escalator. Does anyone know what's going on here? Is there one giant retailer moving in, or will the first floor be converted to offices? Is it just a big makeover, or is this the end of Capital on the Quay as we know it?


At 9:23 am, October 05, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think there was talk of a large scale Borders bookshop, including coffe bar, but that is only hearsay.

On another subject, the last Mystery Bar. Surely it wasn't the Bolton Hotel.

At 10:53 pm, October 05, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The sign Colorado had up said "we will be back in 2007", so there must be some sort of ground-floor retail remaining for them.

At 11:25 am, October 06, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the borders rumor is true I would expect them to look at trying to intergrate the upper and lower floors through incorporating the escalators at that end into the store, and make them accessable when they are open,

they may also reorganise the division of "window estate" with colorado becoming a more "wide and short" store compared to the current "thin and long" while borders or whoever take over all the stuff at the back, ( genki sushi/the gift whop)


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