Alice Plaza and the street: can we try a bit harder?

Grease traps could allow a cafe go in this corner tenancy. Is there a solution?

 

By KIERAN FINNANE

 

Businesses opening their doors onto the street is a make or break situation for Todd Street North, with the most critical premises being the tenancies on the eastern side of Alice Plaza. Is everyone trying hard enough?

 

The Alice Springs News Online has learned that there was a proposal made by the Plaza to the Town Council to install grease traps on council land, that is outside the Plaza premises. Plaza property manager Tony Bowes says council’s response was ‘no-can-do”.

 

Council’s director of Technical Services, Greg Buxton, has confirmed that there was such a request to council. He says the proposal was for a 1500 litre grease arrester under the newly installed paving in the vicinity of the Rainwater Reflection Pan (pictured left after recent rains). He says it would be visible and would require monthly pumping out.

 

Mr Buxton says he wrote back suggesting that options for grease arresters inside the Plaza be investigated. And there they matter has stayed until our enquiries.

 

Mr Bowes says council did “NOT” write back, not to the “property manager” anyway. He says internal grease traps are not an option in “ANY” shopping centre. He says the grease trap proposed would be under ground, with “two Gatic covers flush with the path” and may only require being pumped out six monthly.

 

It is understandable that the area around the Rainwater Reflection Pan, in front of the Foundation Tree, not be disturbed. But what about Todd Street? Would some underground services there be a problem, even if their installation caused temporary inconvenience? That would surely be outweighed by the long-term benefits of a café opening onto the street, particularly one with some al fresco seating taking advantage of the handsome new street design and culturally enriched ambience.

 

Steve Thorne, a leading urban designer whom Alice Springs was lucky enough to have heading up the team in charge of the mall revitalization – a $5m public investment – has described what’s at stake in Todd Street North:

 

“The issue isn’t just about cars, but how to induce a more vibrant, safe and active northern part of the Todd Mall between Parsons Street and Wills Terrace. The proposal to open the mall to cars (it was half open already) can only work if shops open out onto the street. This point we have stressed throughout the consultation process.”

 

 

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3 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Posted February 9, 2014 at 11:02 am

    Here are some ironies for you.
    The Todd Semi-mall was officially opened in April 1978 by Mayor George Smith and Governor-General Sir Zelman Cowan.
    Todd “Small” (as it came to be dubbed) featured a meandering one-way street heading north from Gregory Terrace to Wills Terrace.
    On either side were wide pedestrian walkways – this pattern is still evident in the fully pedestrian Todd Mall between Gregory Terrace and Parsons Street.
    George Smith was always opposed to the development of a mall in Todd Street – his business (Smiths the Jewelers) was located at the front of Turner Arcade near the north end of Todd Street / mall, about where the recently closed Dymocks Bookstore of Alice Plaza is now.
    The Todd Semi-mall had a drastic impact on businesses – in the south end!
    By contrast, the north end flourished – it had the Stuart Arms Hotel, Murray Neck Retravision, Woolworths Supermarket, and B-Mart, amongst others. Most ironic of all, however, is that a popular restaurant called Papa Luigi’s was the first business to set up al-fresco dining on the side of Todd Semi-mall – right where Alice Plaza is today!
    But our local leaders and businesses, displaying top level acumen, decided it would be best to change Todd Semi-mall into a fully pedestrian mall, the work commencing late in 1986.
    Concurrent with that was the construction of a huge monolithic structure called Ford Plaza, today’s Alice Plaza.
    Down went the legendary Stuart Arm’s Hotel, Papa Luigi’s, Murray Necks, etc (and Turner House restaurant, built 1929, in Hartley Street, too) but not to worry! – we were all assured at the time (by the Plaza’s architect Les Platt, amongst others) that Ford Plaza would perfectly complement the new Todd Mall.
    In the meantime, Woolworths (where the Alice Springs Cinema is now) had been persuaded to relocate to the new shopping centre under construction between Hartley and Bath Streets, called the Yeperenye Centre.
    (As late as 1985, Woolworths had stated they had no intention of moving from their old site in Todd Street).
    And who negotiated the move for Woolworths to shift to Yeperenye? Why, it was the alderman of the Alice Springs Town Council who chaired the committee overseeing the mall’s construction!
    Ah, yes, as history clearly shows, our wise all-knowing civic fathers and pillars of society, with all their business acumen and years of experience, they always know what they’re doing! Just leave it to them because they know what’s best for us …

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  2. Steve Brown
    Posted January 31, 2014 at 7:14 am

    I have been reminded in a conversation since I made this comment that this proposal has been before Council and rejected. Unfortunately I can’t recall the details of why it was rejected or if it received any support.
    However one thing is for certain and that is, if usage of the the street frontage of Alice Plaza is dependent on the installation, I am certain that elected members will be very interested in finding some way to accommodate that usage.

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  3. Steve Brown
    Posted January 29, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    Members of the public should be aware that they have a pathway to Council with this kind of issue through their Elected Members. That is what we are here for! To represent your point of view, projects and issues to Council!Our names and contact details are well advertised, feel free to use them. I personally have not heard of this proposal.If this proposal were to be put before Council through the auspices of one of the Councillors, I would certainly give it serious consideration as quite frankly, I would rather spend a moment reflecting on the grate to a grease trap with the sights and sounds of a busy productive main street in the background, than I would on a puddle of water not reflecting the slightest vibe from passing foot traffic! Malls and main streets are for people not puddles!

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