11/06/2008 - 22:00

Rising rents hit Subi strip

11/06/2008 - 22:00

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Rising rents and onerous planning requirements could cost Subiaco its place among Perth's premium cafe and restaurant strips, with a number of food businesses closing their doors in recent months.

Rising rents hit Subi strip

Rising rents and onerous planning requirements could cost Subiaco its place among Perth's premium cafe and restaurant strips, with a number of food businesses closing their doors in recent months.

More than six food businesses have shut their doors in almost as many months, including Zen Sea, Café 151 (formerly Food by Christopher Hiller), Club Subi, the Blue Mussel and Henry's of Subiaco, with Harlequin Cafe Bistro to close in June

Local business owners and councillors have expressed concern that rising rents and operating costs are putting immense pressure on some food business operators, with new entrants being deterred by burdensome requirements, such as parking.

Rents in certain parts of Rokeby Road have almost doubled during the past three years, with some properties fetching up to $1,100 a square metre.

Subiaco Business Association vice-president Steve McQuillan said recent closures had taken Subiaco from a position of almost having too many cafes to not having enough, at a time when the area was trying to promote itself as a tourism precinct.

"On the strip, cafes help keep the life going after hours, and in number they're disappearing," Mr McQuillan said.

"If they close, for whatever reason, its more likely that retail will take the leases, and once that happens its hard to get it back."

Burgess Rawson senior retail leasing consultant Nick Takacs said rising rents had led to greater competition between general retail and food businesses, with the higher rents favouring certain types of tenants such as jewellers and fashion retail.

"There's been a great deal of demand from general retail at rents that are higher than cafes have been willing to pay," he said.

"It's an environment where rents have escalated rapidly and there's lots of competition from blue-chip tenants."

Mr Takacs said that, in his experience leasing main street character shopping areas, cafes generally request about 140 square metres plus alfresco areas to create the right atmosphere and to generate the turnover needed to meet rising costs.

City of Subiaco councillor Murray Rowe said council was looking to embrace the 'main street' program, which offered a range of initiatives designed to revitalise downtown areas and bring vitality to neighborhood business districts.

The program looks at several issues that need to be considered in the development of a main street precinct, including shade, shelter, utilities, parking and access and the store mix.

Mr Rowe said an initiative the council could consider was the construction of large car park, which could provide a façade for retail shops off the main strip and provide bulk parking to divert street parking off Rokeby Road to allow alfresco areas.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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