New northern Todd Mall: it’s just not working

By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

It’s not working: That pretty well sums up the views of traders in the northern Todd Mall following its refurbishment at the cost of $5m provided by the NT Government.

 

The Town Council’s mall promotion officer Marion Erlich is calling a meeting of traders for February 26 to get ideas: A ring-around to traders today has not revealed any.

 

Part of the worries are still ongoing construction work (two areas are being dug up right now). Some toilets were out of action for a day last week. A crew re-lining underground pipes requires intermittent traffic restrictions.

 

Could that not have been done during the extended construction phase, asks one trader.

 

But the fundamental problem is, not enough people are going there.

 

The new parking places in the Mall are useless, says one trader who spoke on condition of not being named, because they are limited to 15 minutes “and you can’t go shopping in that time span”.

 

Kate Freestone, who manages publicity for the Alice Plaza shopping centre, says the refurbishment of the Mall “has made no difference to trade”.

 

She says five of the centre’s 26 shops are empty: ‘We are negotiating some very attractive deals to entice some business operators to the centre,” she says.

 

Miss Freestone says progress is being made with setting up a coffee shop and restaurant at the main entrance (where the sails used to be): The impasse with the Town Council about a grease trap seems set for a solution, with a local plumber working on a quote, for the trap itself on Plaza land but connected to the underground piping on council land.

Miss Freestone also says there’s much discussion among centre tenants about increasing the connection with the new mall, with stores facing it having doors into it, and targeting passers-by with inspiring displays.

 

“We hope we can encourage the right businesses to open and operate out to Todd Street,” says Miss Freestone.

It is understood that the Town Council was urged by a consultant it had hired, not to embark on the Mall refurbishment unless the shopping centre agreed to become an integral part of it, rather than continuing to turn its back on it. If that advice was given, it was ignored by the council.

 

One trader says the nine months construction period was catastrophic – and now it seems it was all in vain as shoppers are still simply staying away. Instead of finally moving back into the black, she and her husband had to borrow more money just to keep the doors open.

 

She says there is talk about a couple of major chains not renewing their leases when their tenancy contracts come to an end, along with a local business.

 

She says a new coffee shop would be great because it would encourage people to “linger”.

 

PHOTOS: More construction work in the Mall. Empty shop at the main entrance to the Alice Plaza shopping centre.

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8 Comments (starting with the most recent)

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  1. Jo
    Posted February 28, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    I’m a local (for 33 years) and on the rare occasion I walk the Mall, I park near the post office.
    No tickets to collect and carry with me, then when finished shopping, no ticket to zap into a big metal box before doubling back to my car.
    Whose idea was it to make it all so annoyingly complex? How many people have carted their purchases back to the car, only then to remember they have to go back in the plaza to swipe that stupid ticket?
    Change the parking areas to free parking without these silly tickets, and get the traders to open up to the Mall side. Then I might venture down that way as well. In truth, the plaza has nothing ‘enticing’ to offer me. It’s big and stark.

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  2. T.O.
    Posted February 24, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    Upstairs / downstairs cafes, bars and restaurants. This area should be the social hub of the town. It is so underused.

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  3. Born and bred long time local
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    Plaza needs a massive revamp … move foodies to mall side with tables outside and inside.
    Put specialty shops in the area they vacate.
    Turn Todd Mall back into a interesting area.
    The owners need to stop treating the main street as a back lane to be neglected and ignored and spend some money to make the ugly building more inviting to the public. They already have the big plus … parking! Putting a coffee shop down near where the sails used to be is another bandaid fix.

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  4. Posted February 21, 2014 at 11:13 am

    Hate to say I told you so but … I told you so. It’s so typical of the cart-before-the-horse approach that’s long been the hallmark of such developments in Alice Springs.
    Probably the major fault lies with so much planning undertaken by bureaucracy in isolation from the realities of market forces – in effect, we’re suffering the impact of a “planned economy” along much the same lines as experienced in countries of the former Soviet Union and its allies.
    There’s an intriguing aspect of the whole of Todd Street and Mall that hasn’t been raised so far, to my knowledge.
    Starting from the south end, you’ve got the original two lane sealed road with side parking; the full pedestrian mall between Gregory Terrace and Parsons Street (incorporating the winding one-way street of the previous semi-mall); and now the recently refurbished north end of Todd Street, with wide paths and narrow traffic roadway, which was essentially the original proposal suggested for Todd Street in 1965!
    So, purely by default rather than by design, Alice Springs now boasts a main street that features every stage of its development for the past half a century – literally a track record of its recent history. It’s likely this is unique in Australia – maybe there’s a marketing opportunity in that somewhere!

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  5. Hal Duell
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 10:09 am

    So to recap:
    1) Council was advised not to proceed unless the traders on the eastern side of Alice Plaza agreed to open their doors to the street and become part of the new-look Todd St North. Any takers?
    2) The few new parking places are limited to 15 minutes and are useless except for quick deliveries.
    3) What was a community meeting place – “Meet you under the sails” – is gone.
    4) One positive is the open road does offer an outstanding view of an old gum tree.
    But it’s still early days. Shade trees will grow. Alice is still here. We will survive.

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  6. Dotson
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 8:02 am

    A very strange land Australia is. Nothing but miles and miles of nothing but more miles and miles of nothing and you have no place to build a house, park a car or shop.
    In America Wall-Mart would just go to the edge of town and build a vast store with a half acre or more of free lighted parking.
    The Las Vegas strip was was built because of corrupt City of Las Vegas politics the builders and doers just went a few feet across the city limit and built an empire on the highway to Los Angles. A little known fact is that the famous Las Vegas strip is not in the City of Las Vegas.
    A lot they never told me when I signed on at this station.

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  7. Peter Mifsud
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 5:42 am

    Matty, just what was the original vision and how many people supported it?

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  8. Matty Day
    Posted February 20, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    Strangled to death by bureaucrats and by laws. The vision had life and vibrancy the space revitalised and futuristic, the early practice of persecution promoted the conflict vibe not the come together and share space vibe which increases lingering shopping traffic. It’s not too late to return to the initial vision if our leadership is strong enough.

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