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

Monday, April 23, 2007

Shops that pass in the night 12

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The Wellington hotel & apartment complex nearing completionThe stretch of upper Cuba St shops being redeveloped as part of The Wellington apartment and hotel complex is now almost completely tenanted. As I noted a couple of months ago, Eyeball Kicks and the superette have already moved in, and Mojo coffee and Caffé Italiano are both supposed to be on the way. There's already a florist taking temporary residence in one of the units, but they'll soon move next door to make way for Mojo. A larger tenancy towards the southern end may still be unleased, but the last of the small tenancies is about to become the new home of Madame Fancy Pants when it opens this Friday.

So: a jeweller, a florist, a tiki/hot rod gallery, a couple of cafés and a dairy: is this the gentrification that some of us had worried would follow the redevelopment? Some of these are certainly a little more upmarket than their predecessors, but with the possible exception of Caffé Italiano none of them are national or global chains. It's not all tattoo parlours and anarchist bookshops, but it's an interesting cross-section of local businesses and far from inappropriate for Cuba St.

ALC HQ in Cuba StInterestingly, just up the road from here is an example of reverse gentrification (plebification? Bohofication?). Belle Vie was always a pleasant enough shop, but it seemed strangely out of place: dainty homeware and exquisitely catered designer weddings never struck me as being uppermost in the mind of patrons of the nearby Spacesuit clothing or San Francisco Bathhouse. After they moved to a new location in Willis St, the old shop was empty for a while, but as I wrote over on that other site, it's now ALC HQ. Clothes for skaties, punks and emos: now that's much more Cuba!

The old Eyeball Kicks site in Ghuznee St was empty for a little while as well, but it's just re-opened as Sweet vintage clothing. It would be even sweeter if they had some menswear, but I guess men hang onto their clothes until they fall apart. And the shop vacated by Madam Fancy Pants at the top of Plimmer Steps is about to become another jewellery boutique, this time one that's moving in from Eastbourne. No word yet on what will become of the space that housed Modern Love before the opening of their new Left Bank shop, but it raises the question: is the top of Plimmer Steps now the place to watch for up-and-coming new shops?


At 8:16 pm, April 23, 2007, Blogger Will de Cleene said...

Talking Heads on The Wellington:
Bland, bland, bland, bland, bland!

At 8:37 am, April 24, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

I'll wait until the building's finished before deciding what I think of it aesthetically, but I actually don't mind it too much. The detailing looks well-handled, if a little bland (as you say), and there's enough spatial variety to stop it looking too boxy. It's certainly a step or two above the Archaus boxes we've been getting recently, and I think I prefer it to the architectural fakery of Rex's previous additions to the People's Palace next door.

In some ways, bland is good: it's a mid-range hotel and apartment development, not a museum or monument, and it shouldn't be drawing attention to itself too much. I would have preferred it to be a little more interesting, but in a place like Cuba St it's best for the building to take a step back from the street and let the shops provide the interest.

At 10:14 am, April 26, 2007, Blogger s. said...

I noticed yesterday that a couple of doors north of ALC HQ, in the former Girlies Project/Bizy Bees etc. space, Aotearoa Streetwear has a big "closing down" painted on the window.

At 10:53 am, April 26, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Yes, it looks like they're preparing for demolition, since the replacement building was granted consent some time ago. Aotearoa Streetwear had been prepared for this for a while, and have opened a new branch in the James Smith market.


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