Renew Armidale is at this stage an experiment based on the success of Renew Newcastle, which in itself is a story of many journeys, but mainly the vision of a community to breath life back into their town.
Essentially that is what Renew Armidale want to achieve through low cost options and with the assistance of volunteers, sponsors, donations and community support. Make no mistake it will not happen if the community do not get behind initiative.
So, what is it – It is a way of connecting people with empty spaces? Renew Armidale hopes to support people who are what we call ‘creative entrepreneurs’, or start-ups, who will bring back interest and activity into our empty spaces.
If the project is successful, then there will be flow on effects in that the empty spaces will again become vibrant and filled with activity. This in turn will have the impact of reducing crime, graffiti vandalism and the dilapidation of buildings unnecessarily because they have been left vacant.
Renew Newcastle started in August 2008 by the founder Marcus Westbury who found a legal framework to bring life back by developing a licensing agreement that provided confidence to property owners to ‘lend’ their vacant properties while they remained untenanted.
What was demonstrated is that when there is activity it makes it more attractive to commercial tenants.
Armidale’s story has many synergies with Newcastle – the rise in car ownership; suburban shopping centres; internet; an empty CBD declining as the years go by. New businesses wanting to start but not being able to afford the rent when they first start out; out of town Landlords; properties becoming unleasable the longer they are left vacant and the prospect that ‘cheap leases’ will devalue the asset on paper and increased maintenance costs making it easier to retain the building as losses and deductions than as going concerns.
Take a walk down the Armidale Mall or Bradley Street in Guyra and the story is the same – empty shops and more of them as the years go by. Change that story and become a part of Renew Armidale.