Plans are afoot to transform Foley Lane into an alfresco dining and retail area.

If approved by the City Of Sydney, the laneway between Crown St and Oxford Square will get new paving, improved lighting, shops and cafes opening on to the lane from council-owned buildings between 58 and 76 Oxford St.

The street redesign, to be voted on by Council on June 21, also includes space for a supermarket and retail shops on the Oxford St side of the buildings and two floors of office space.

“This major refurbishment will transform an existing property into a new shopping hub for fresh food, boutique retail and commercial offices, and will overlook a transformed laneway where people can dine, explore and socialise,” City of Sydney CEO Monica Barone said.

“The City of Sydney is re-establishing Oxford St as a strong and vibrant retail destination and building on Oxford St’s unique eclectic character.”

There have been mixed reactions from local business people to the redevelopment.

Oxford Hotel manager Roger Z told Sydney Star Observer he would “most definitely” welcome the redevelopment of the laneway and buildings.

However, Darlinghurst and Surry Hills Business Partnership president Lawrence Gibbons said it was foolish to proceed with the redevelopment before having specific tenants in mind.

“My concern from the start has been that I would like to know who the tenants the City is proposing will take the space are going to be,” he said.

“This happened with the Burton St Tabernacle, where they spent a lot of money on a fit-out saying it was going to be a theatre and then the theatre people came in and said it was entirely inappropriate for that use.

“I also have concerns about pushing commercial activity into the residential side of Oxford St. A lot of the residents behind Oxford St are bombarded with noise already and it just intensifies needless conflict when it seems to me, why can’t you have alfresco dining on Oxford St?”

Aussie Boys’ Ken Holmes echoed Gibbons’ concerns and saw the wider state of Oxford St and Taylor Square as a bigger priority.

“They’ve got another block down the other end with tenants in it for about three or four hundred dollars a week because they can’t fill them up, when traders elsewhere on the street are paying $1000, $2000 ­— maybe more.

“Are they going to take more people off the strip and put them in Foley Lane because they don’t want to sit on Oxford St?”

T2 gets tenants

The College of Fine Arts (COFA) and Reverse Garbage will help turn the former T2 nightclub building on Taylor Square into a creative centre.

Senior COFA students will use the top floor, while on the ground floor Reverse Garbage will hold creative workshops and sell materials discarded by industry to artists and homemakers.
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said council advertised its call for interest in the property widely to ensure it went to users with a strong link to the community.

“This is an opportunity to reactivate part of the iconic Taylor Square building as a temporary creative community space celebrating the vibrancy and diversity of the Oxford St cultural quarter,” Moore said.

The two organisations will have free use of the building while the exterior is being renovated and will vacate the premises when restoration work begins inside.

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