New South Wales
|Hunter Street, Newcastle from Civic Railway Station. To the right is the Newcastle Civic Theatre|
|Length||3.4 km (2 mi)|
|From||Cnr Scott and Newcomen Streets, Newcastle|
|To||Selma St, Newcastle West|
|Coordinates||Coordinates: (East end)|
Hunter Street in Newcastle is the major shopping street in the Newcastle central business district. The street is a paved pedestrian mall between Wolfe and Perkins Streets. In the early nineteenth-century, Hunter Street east of Brown Street formed the northern boundary of the Dangar Grid.
Since the 1970s, the retail strip has fallen into serious decline, partly as a result of the development of suburban shopping centres and a trend to move away from inner-city dwellings and business. The re-implementation and frequent expansion of metered parking over a large area around the CBD by Newcastle City Council has been blamed for exacerbating this decline, though many blame the Newcastle railway line. The street was once regarded as the premier shopping destination in Australia's second oldest city, at a time offering more than three quality department stores. Of these stores, David Jones was only to survive, but has recently closed (2011). The strip between the Civic Precinct and East End also supported a moderate theatre district, along which stands the Newcastle Civic Theatre and the now closed Victoria Theatre.
A footbridge was constructed as part of the Queen's Wharf redevelopment, providing access from the centre of the Hunter Street mall, over Scott Street, the Newcastle railway line and Wharf Road to Queen's Wharf, on the southern side of Hunter River.
In recent years, development in Newcastle's CBD, particularly around the Civic precinct and beachfront areas, has injected new life and wealth into the old city. Modern architecture has begun to dominate the very Victorian skyline of the East End as firms begin to migrate back into the old city centre and a new cosmopolitan lifestyle begins to form in the city and adjacent suburbs.
The Hunter Street precinct is proposed to become the site of redevelopment by General Property Trust, who, in August 2007, announced plans to redevelop four blocks on the southern side of the Hunter Street Mall between Perkins and Newcomen Streets into one large shopping centre. No further details have been released, except for the fact that David Jones will hold a 12,000-square-metre (129,167 sq ft), two level space within the centre that will be 25% larger than the existing store. The centre itself will be spread across three levels. Along with the development, Hunter Street Mall has been reopened to traffic one way. GPT also caused controversy by also claiming that for the development to go ahead, the Newcastle railway line must be cut.
Inaction and indecision regarding the railway caused GPT to pull their redevelopment plans from the city. David Jones have since closed its doors in early 2011.
Over the past year a program called Renew Newcastle based on using empty shops for start up culture based businesses has brought renewed enthusiasm back to the city centre. Renew Newcastle is being looked on by other cities as a model for arresting the decline of city centres.
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (April 2009)|
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