The mission to refresh Hindley St

Two new tenants for vacant Hindley Street shopfronts will soon be unveiled, but an agency dedicated to CBD renewal says coordinated action by property owners is needed to rejuvenate the struggling entertainment strip.

Jun 25, 2024, updated Jun 25, 2024
Renew Adelaide CEO Gianna Murphy and head of partnerships Timothea Moylan. Photo: David Simmons/InDaily.

Renew Adelaide CEO Gianna Murphy and head of partnerships Timothea Moylan. Photo: David Simmons/InDaily.

Renew Adelaide head of partnerships Timothea Moylan knows it will take more than just two entrants to rejuvenate the nightlife precinct, but says it’s a start.

The organisation, which launched its first-ever venture on Hindley Street 14 years ago, is set to unveil the new businesses that will soon call the West End home.

It comes amid a Hindley St vacancy crisis, with InDaily revealing in June that nearly one in five properties are empty.

Real estate services firm JLL said the strip’s vacancy rate was the highest “among all tracked Adelaide retail high streets”.

Renew Adelaide’s Moylan said consumer preferences of younger Adelaideans were changing and Hindley Street traders needed to keep up.

She said the JLL figure was “higher than we expected”, but it was “pretty damning too”.

“That one in five is empty is huge, and I think you can feel it on the street perhaps more than seeing it,” she said.

“Nightlife is shifting and the way that this younger generation is choosing to spend their free time is different to a decade or many decades ago.

“There’s this conception – or misconception I’d say – that Gen Z is not drinking, they’re not partying. I think that they are still choosing to do that but in different environments or in different ways.”

Moylan said the Hindley Street vacancy issue was concentrated between King William Street and Morphett Street, and that there were good examples of urban renewal further west.

“We’re seeing spaces like Peter Rabbit, Nearly, Stem and Jive turn into a quite beautiful ecosystem,” she said.

“You can see what happens when there is vibrancy and some thought put into the curation.

“In that middle section, there are lots of massage parlours and convenience stores, and those things don’t bring vibrancy. So, it’s a bit about the way people are spending their time but it’s also a bit about what’s actually on the street and how people can interact with it.”

The incoming Adelaide City Council upgrade of Hindley Street, including wider footpaths, fewer car parks, tree planting and more will “go a long way to improving the pedestrian experience” according to Moylan, but real change will come with “precinct curation”.

This will help with Hindley Street developing a new identity – something that she feels has been achieved in the East End.

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“So much consideration has gone into what the East End looks and feels like, and there’s a really unanimous idea about what that looks and feels like,” she said.

“In the West End… it’s not been as considered as it has been in the East End, which is why we see that gap.

“At the moment it’s still seen as a nightlife precinct obviously, but it’s also seen as a little bit rough, perhaps unsafe. People still say they wouldn’t want to walk down there by themselves at night. I think it’s suffered some reputational damage to what it was several decades ago when it was full of restaurants and bars and retail.”

Renew Adelaide was founded over a decade ago and its first venture was The Reading Room on Hindley Street – a type of business that could operate sustainably thanks to the organisation’s rent-free period model.

Now, 14 years later, Moylan thinks Hindley Street is in a similar situation to when Renew Adelaide was first founded.

“The challenges we were facing 14 years ago were not that dissimilar to what we’re facing now,” she said.

“We’re always trying to get access to property down there, the East End has opened its doors a little easier. But simply because of the ownership structure down Hindley Street it has been a bit harder.

“We’re always trying.”

A new creative space and new a hospitality space will soon be announced by Renew Adelaide on Hindley Street. Moylan was tight-lipped on details but said they would go towards a sense of placemaking that’s been achieved in the East End and further west along Hindley.

“I think there’s this really organic identity there that doesn’t get talked about as often as it should. It’s got this kind of grungy, creative identity that needs to be harnessed and brought to the surface a little.

“Obviously there’s the student community down there as well. We’ve been chatting with them and asking what they do after they finish uni for the day and a lot of them are coming down to the East End, so we’re really keen to see what we can do to keep that demographic interested in sticking around the west after they finish for the day.”

Moylan she was optimistic about the future of Hindley Street.

“It just needs collaboration and clear direction from all of the stakeholders and from the community, because that’s the only clear way forward,” she said.

“Any one of us can say ‘this is what the street needs’. Actually making that change happen is a whole other kettle of fish.

“I think precinct curation is the key to elevating it and forming that new identity.”

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