The Darlinghurst Business Partnership has been branded for an expanded role in representing businesses throughout the 2010 postcode.
The now Darlinghurst and Surry Hill Business Partnership president Lawrence Gibbons told Sydney Star Observer the new name was partially a reaction to the City of Sydney’s 2030 Vision for the area.
“Part of the issue has been that Oxford St has been at the edge of a lot of dividing lines,” Gibbons said. “It’s the edge of two police commands, and the city has drawn up these new hubs for itself.”
“North of Oxford St is one hub, to the south is another, and the Paddington end is another too — this is their 2030 vision. Fundamentally for the Business Partnership, Oxford St is the heart of the district, so everything through Surry Hills to Darlinghurst and East Sydney — that’s the precinct.
“Either Oxford St has a relationship with its local community where people within walking distance use the high street and there’s a variety of things on offer or it becomes just an after-midnight economy and that’s not what we want to see happen.”
Gibbons said supporting the area’s gay identity was a vital part of keeping that alive.
“There’s that boring argument about whether or not Oxford St is gay,” Gibbons said. “Of course it is. Our whole concern is how to make it viable.
“If it’s going to remain one of the unique gay centres in the world then you need to have a diverse mix, the kinds of shops you’d see on Christopher St in Greenwich Village or on Castro St in San Francisco that a global traveller or a gay resident expects to find in that village.”
Gibbons said as the owner of so many buildings along Oxford St, it was vital council had a property management strategy that kept that in mind.
“You can’t leave it all to market forces or just say that because you’re the landlord you’re going to get the biggest tenant in with the highest return without thinking about the social factors in the equation.
“We want to make sure council has a plan in place to attract small local independent retailers. We’re concerned that’s not the property department’s mandate. We maintain that if government is going to own property, then government has responsibilities in the community to ensure a certain kind of mix.”
Gibbons welcomed the City of Sydney’s announcement of funding for its 2010-2011 budget to finish upgrades between 82-120 Oxford St, but wanted details on its plans for the 56-78 strip.
“So far all they’ve done is put up a DA that indicates they’re going to spend $14 million on the property. But we’ve not seen any kind of holistic strategy to address the retail mix.”
A City of Sydney spokeswoman said the city had had preliminary discussions with tenants of properties yet to be upgraded and would continue those discussions in the coming months.
“The upgrade builds on plans to establish Oxford St as a premier art, design and cultural commerce precinct. It will strengthen Oxford St’s international reputation as a gay and lesbian icon, a destination for quality and quirky shopping, great dining and entertainment,” the spokeswoman said.
A DA is being prepared for remaining upgrades between 84 and 116 Oxford St.

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