Reimagining Capitol Arcade

By Rhonda Dredge

One of the CBD’s quietest and classiest little pieces of urban infrastructure is up for reimagining with at least six shops now available for lease.

The Capitol Arcade was stylishly renovated two years ago and the scaffolding over Howey Place has finally been removed. Couple that with a downward push on rental returns and an opportunity for a creative rethink beckons.

Fitzroy’s agent James Lockwood has listed four of the properties and he said the smallest could be available for as low as $35,000 per annum.

“One came up last week,” he told CBD News on March 19, and another business is looking to get out so there are a range of options available.

There is a catch, though. Landlords are not yet accepting that shops worth $55,000 in annual rental pre-COVID have dropped by a third in value. 

Many CBD businesses are renegotiating leases with landlords while others have closed down all together. 

Renovations on the Hotel Causeway on Howey Place have been adding to the uncertainty with noisy construction dominating the area over the past year.

“We now have a deadline. The hotel is due to open in June,” Mr Lockwood said.

Shop 15 is on the corner of Presgrave Place, possibly the grooviest, most domestic of the CBD’s lanes with clothes hanging out across the street.

Two students from Fitzroy were out taking photographs. The place is very photogenic but without the foot traffic businesses are left wondering about viability. 

“The city is too expensive and neat,” said one of the students. “This is the first time we’ve come in.”

Some shops in the arcade were bringing in rentals as high as $110,000 before COVID, according to agents.

One shopkeeper told CBD News that he should be paying $350 a week based on the number of customers instead of $1500. “I’m negotiating,” he said.

The arcade was redesigned two years ago by Six Degrees, not in a flashy way but to reveal some of its hidden details. The ceiling was removed and the concrete beams are attractive with small dangling lights and mirrored sections that create a degree of mystique.

The café at the end of the arcade, The Alley Edition, is reflected in the ceiling, with a strong eye on design.

Shop 17 is on the corner of the arcade, opposite the café, and Shop 12, the smallest on offer, has attractive metal window frames and herringbone floor tiles.

The former gallery space beneath Shop 17 is also up for sale •

Caption: Capitol Arcade: a quiet space in the city.

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