@ Ross Chippendale (Posted May 1, 2017 at 6:23 am): …

Comment on Making the CBD vibrant, again: Detail, please. by Alex Nelson.

@ Ross Chippendale (Posted May 1, 2017 at 6:23 am): Anyone who’s lived in Alice Springs from before the construction of the full pedestrian Todd Mall would recall that Todd Street (as it used to be) was a highly vibrant location, as it was the main retail area in town.
We didn’t have the Alice Plaza, Yeperenye Shopping Centre, K-mart and (before 1980) the Coles Complex.
Todd Street (in the CBD) featured two supermarkets at either end, with Woolworths in the north (where the cinema complex is today) and Egar Beavers at the Heenan Building corner.
We had the Stuart Arms Hotel on the Parsons Street corner, and Todd Street featured pleasant shopping arcades especially in the northern end (Turner Arcade and Gorey Arcade), and there was the fabulous B-Mart general store in the north end, too. There was so much more.
Todd Street was crammed with traffic and tourists, as long ago as the 1960s when Alice Springs’ population was well below 10,000 – but it was also a time when The Alice was THE pre-eminent tourism destination of the Northern Territory as it was the gaps and gorges of the MacDonnell Ranges that collectively was the main attraction, and Ayers Rock was an adjunct to those attractions.
Todd Street became a victim of its success at a time when there seemed to be no limit to the possibilities of growth and expansion of the town.
The first recommendation to convert Todd Street into a pedestrian mall was made in the HKF consultancy report into the Central Australian tourism industry released in late 1969.
The concept probably would have worked if the recommendations of that report had been adhered to but over the years the failure of proper planning and disciplined consistency for appropriate developments ruined its chances of success.
The expansion of retail developments across the CBD during the early to mid 1980s were based on the assumption that Alice Springs’ phenomenal growth would continue indefinitely into the future.
However, the completion of these major developments coincided with the end of this massive expansionary phase and suddenly the town found itself overdeveloped with a substantial excess of commercial retail and office space.
Something had to give and it did. The new Todd Mall collapsed virtually from the moment of its completion in late 1987 and has never recovered from that time onwards.
Many millions of dollars, both private and public, have been spent trying to jumpstart the Todd Mall ever since, and the current government appears intent on continuing to throw good money after bad in a vain attempt to recover the situation.
This simply won’t work because we’re ignoring the facts that the town’s stagnant population is oversupplied with existing retail facilities and tourist numbers are inadequate to make up the difference.
A very different approach is required but, on the evidence observed so far, it seems far too much to hope for from the current crop of “experts” in bureacracy and business.
I’m left seriously underwhelmed by the NT Government’s current approach to resolving these long-running, deeply entrenched problems of, frankly, our own making.

Alex Nelson Also Commented

Making the CBD vibrant, again: Detail, please.
This announcement, following hard on the heels of the dire budgetary situation for the NT, is highly reminiscent of a quarter century ago.
Here’s a few comparisons: The CLP won the NT election campaign of October 1990, which it was at risk of losing earlier that year after much infighting and instability; the ALP wins the NT election campaign in August 2016 after much infighting and instability in the previous CLP government.
Shortly after its election victory in 1990, the CLP Government announces the formation of an Expenditure Review Committee chaired by Treasurer Barry Coulter in light of the dire budgetary situation in the NT, concurrent with a worsening national economic outlook.
In April 1991, seven months after the elections, the NT Government announced major cutbacks in expenditure including the ending of government programs, and the abolition of 1220 public service positions to be achieved through attrition and a freeze on recruitment.
In March 2017, eight months after the NT election campaign, Treasurer Nicole Manison faces up to a massive decline in GST revenue for the NT by abandoning the Government’s commitment to return the NT budget to surplus by 2018-19, non-renewal of government programs and reduction of the public service through attrition – all within the context of a clearly deteriorating national economic outlook.
Now we have an announcement by the current NT Government intending to rejuvenate the CBDs of Darwin and Alice Springs.
In 1990 the major project underway in Darwin was the State Square development, which began with the construction of a new Supreme Court opened late that year. Hmm, sounds remarkably familiar within the context of 2017 in Alice Springs, doesn’t it? The second stage of the State Square project was the construction of the new Legislative Assembly, completed in 1994.
In Alice Springs we got a commitment for revitalisation of the CBD! During 1992 the Department of Lands and Housing commenced “Planning for the Future Development of the Alice Springs Central Area” under the project title “Alice Springs – Visions for an Oasis Town” which (in my opinion) can be easily re-imagined by the current government’s emphasis to make Alice Springs the “capital of inland Australia” (maybe this description is in consolation for no new Legislative Assembly in the Centre!)
Dale Wakefield’s assurance that “Government will work closely with the Alice Springs community to identify and plan and deliver key projects to revitalise the Alice Springs CBD” is markedly similar to the extensive public consultation and planning the NT Government undertook in late 1992 (I’ve still got my copies of the extensive “response forms” for the key topics of land Use, buildings, conservation, mobility and your choice).
Very little eventuated from all of this activity, although we did get the Tom Brown Roundabout at the entrance to Heavitree Gap which was actually part of the design for a four-lane extension of the Stuart Highway through the Gap announced in 1986.
So here we go again – frankly, I can never overcome my suspicion that George Orwell’s dystopian society described in Nineteen Eighty-Four isn’t simply a caricature of the regime in which we find ourselves.


Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

Student boarding funding restored – for now
Isn’t that something? A minister of the NT Government has listened to concerns about a government decision, and reversed it in a day.
Little aggravation, and great relief for many, I should think.
Minister Selena Uibo has set a fine example – now, if only certain others of her colleagues would take notice of public concern about the NT Government’s poor decision-making over the location of the proposed National Aboriginal Art Gallery…


Remains of missing man found near Yambah
@ John Bell (Posted September 20, 2018 at 10:21 pm): The skeleton was identified, a young man only recently arrived in Alice Springs in 1965. It’s believed he was a victim of an accidental discharge of his rifle, not a suicide.


Ring a bell?
Is it just me, or is it the case that the “Boundless Possible” embarrassment has suffered a swift death, consigned quietly to the wheelie bin of history?
Ah yes, a government elected into office that promised us all greater standards of honesty and accountability; but no, it’s just business as usual, that we’ve long endured for decades in the Northern Territory.
It really makes no difference who’s in charge.


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@ Ruth Weston (Posted September 7, 2018 at 1:08 pm): Sodium fluoroacetate is the commercially produced 1080 poison, and is closely related to potassium fluoroacetate, the poisonous chemical found in a wide variety of plant species.
Both chemicals have the same effect, disrupting the Krebs Cycle (or Citric Acid Cycle) which disrupts the ability of cells to metabolise carbohydrates, fats and proteins for energy production.
It was biochemist Ray Murray, based in Alice Springs with the Animal Industry Branch from 1954 to 1966, who first identified the naturally occurring 1080-based compound that occurs sporadically in poison Gidgee (Acacia georginae) which plagued the beef cattle industry in the east of Central Australia and across the Queensland border.


Stagnant CBD; industrial land, rental shortage; houses hold
The photo caption “The ANZ Bank has relocated from this prime Todd Street North site, opposite the Visitor Centre, to Gregory Terrace” serves – perhaps inadvertently – to emphasise the “moving of deckchairs” in the CBD, as the Visitor Centre itself was relocated to its present site a few years ago from its former Gregory Terrace location adjacent to the Civic Centre … and that particular building, the former Queen Elizabeth II Infant Welfare Clinic, that was heavily modified and opened to great fanfare in 1997 as the new Visitor Centre, remains steadfastly vacant.
Aside from the shift of the ANZ Bank (which, incidentally, opened its doors on its former Parsons Street site in August 1962, exactly 56 years ago) and the recent Wicked Kneads shop on the opposite corner now up for sale, there has also been the closure recently of two nearby hairdresser businesses, too – one of which was for sale for a long time but obviously attracted no serious interest.
Just yesterday, walking along Gregory Terrace, I was shocked to see “For lease” notices plastering the windows of La Casalinga restaurant, a long-standing business in this town and even something of an institution.
This town has weathered significant economic downturns on previous occasions – the mid 1970s, the late 1980s and early 1990s – but I’ve never seen the relocation of so many businesses (the “shifting of deckchairs”) on such a scale as has been occurring in recent years. It’s quite a phenomenon.
This situation is concurrent with the only significant new developments – the Green Well Building in Bath Street and the multi-storey Supreme Court building in Parsons Street – being occupied by government departments and instrumentalities, to the detriment of existing commercial lease stock in town. These developments, along with the re-opening of Todd Street North to traffic again, have done nothing to arrest the decline of the CBD, notwithstanding all the hype and propaganda of government and the private sector arguing in support of them.
Recent history quite clearly shows that the proposed National Indigenous Art Gallery will prove NOT to be the economic nirvana for this town. Exactly the same rationale was given for the developments of the casino almost four decades ago, the major hotel developments in the 1980s and the Alice Springs Desert Park in the 1990s – clearly none of these institutions, either on their own or altogether, have assisted in averting the current decline of our town, and there is no reason or evidence to show that the gallery will prove to be any different.
On the contrary, it will be yet another expensive long-term burden for the taxpayer to bear.


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