Renew Newcastle turns 10

NEXT PHASE: Renew Newcastle's general manager Christopher Saunders at The Station. Picture: Melinda McMillan

NEXT PHASE: Renew Newcastle's general manager Christopher Saunders at The Station. Picture: Melinda McMillan

NEWCASTLE’S most famous export has celebrated its 10th anniversary at its new digs, the former railway station, in the heart of the city. 

Renew Newcastle, which has seen 262 projects occupy 81 spaces in the city over a 10 year period, is now looking forward to its next incarnation. 

General manager Christopher Saunders said the success of the organisation, which has now exported its blueprint for renewal to 39 Australian, and 9 international, cities was built on its capacity to tap in to the city’s “sweat equity”.

Sweat equity is a term coined by Renew’s founder, Marcus Westbury, that described the willingness of key individuals to put their energy into getting things done. 

“You have to find the key people, who have not just self interest, but an interest in the city,” Mr Saunders said. 

“It was a grass roots organisation that allowed local people to get involved and engage with their city.”

In 2015, the organisation peaked with 61 properties across the city licensed out to arts-based small businesses. 

“At the end of 2015, the mall was at 90 per cent occupancy, not just from us, but the knock-on effect. We had drawn other businesses in,” Mr Saunders said. 

Unusually, under the Renew model, businesses getting moved out of spaces was a measure of success. It signalled demand for commercial property. 

Since the State Government led revitalisation of the city has got underway, along with massive investment of  private capital, the organisation has had to change its scope. 

In 2017, Renew Newcastle successfully won the tender to occupy the former Newcastle Station.  

The Station officially opened in October, but Mr Saunders said things were “still getting under way”. 

A cafe and bar are now up and running, along with the University of Newcastle’s technology room, and Sharkview is showcasing its adaptive camouflage products (see story on page 3) at the site.  

However, there are other spaces still waiting to be occupied and Renew is keen to hear from people with good ideas. 

The Station will host a calendar of events in the coming weeks and months, including live entertainment, food trucks and festivals. The space is also available for events and festivals. 

Renew will be located at The Station for 18 months, after-which it intends to turn its gaze to the “fringes of the city”. 

Find out more about what is coming up at The Station: renewnewcastle.org