Edward Mandla
COUNCIL SPEECHES
Oxford Street Creative Spaces

Published On: 29/06/2015

I’ll never understand Clovernomics – the branch of knowledge concerned with co-production, committees, and an overall reduction of wealth.

It seems that feeling some guilt for the death of Oxford street, the best quick fix we’ve got is to reduce rents by up to 75% for creative tenants to destroy whatever goodwill is left on the street from full paying lessees.

We had Stephen Howard of 74 Oxford Street display braveness by addressing this chamber last week and tell us how cheap creative lessees on either side of him are squeezing his business. Apparently, the public is expected to realise that his fully imported shoes are worth the premium because they have not been creatively designed in Australia under the city’s cheap rent giveaway.

What stunned me when I went on the City of Sydney tour of Oxford Street is the number of properties that have been empty and is disrepair for over a decade. Who killed Oxford Street indeed!

People find it hard to believe when I tell them that QVB is owned by the City of Sydney. “But it’s so well run they say”. That’s because the City leased it out to professionals on a 99-year lease. If the City ran it, it would have sawdust, broken widows, jugglers and creative leases at up to 75% discount.

So QVB is activated? Apparently Oxford Street might be too because the tenants of discounted properties and their visitors create commerce. It seems they have added $1.2M into the local economy by buying morning coffees and lunches. There’d be more the in the City of Sydney’s collective Petty Cash cans. This is an embarrassment.

We’ve also learnt that we have 14 office spaces and 4 retail spaces under this scheme and 7 are sub let. The rumour is, at a profit. This puts a mockery to the whole scheme. Not to mention that a number of discounted lessees open at odd hours, if at all. That’s activation.

Foley Street is freshly renovated. That we’re not offering them to commercial tenants first shows that we have lost our way. We have a contaminated vision for Oxford Street that somehow a discounted creative tenant is better for the city that a full paying lessee.

I can tell you where all this leads. When you embark on a journey of Clovernomics, the destination is a place called Clovergrad via the road to Serfdom. You can go if you want and we will see how many ultimately follow you.

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