ALBANY’S chamber of commerce has asked the city’s council why it would “orchestrate” a coffee shop in its new visitor centre “in direct competition to already struggling businesses in York Street”.
In a passionately* worded submission on City of Albany plans to let a 14.25sqm space at the visitor centre to barista Chris Saurin, the Chamber also asks why new floor space has been created when there are “lots of empty shops on York Street”.
“If concerns are being raised to the City of Albany about visitors complaining about lack of choice/options for coffee/food, why hasn’t that been taken up with existing businesses to address the problem?” the Chamber continues.
Months ago, The Weekender revealed the City would create a space beside the library overlooking Alison Hartman Gardens, and that Mr Saurin had been tentatively selected to fill it with a coffee spot he intended to call ‘Booked’ (‘Coffee booked in’, 30 August).
Then, on October 19, the City hosted a meeting of concerned York Street traders at which the Chamber was present.
Now, City official Tanya Catherall has recommended the Council approve a $9000-a-year lease to Mr Saurin.
Ms Catherall’s recommendation was considered by a City committee on Monday night ahead of referral to a future meeting of the council for a final decision.
Mr Saurin has indicated Booked will generally trade seven days a week and public holidays.
In response to the Chamber’s submission, Ms Catherall notes the coffee shop will occupy only “a modest space”.
“There is currently no other retail offering on the west side of York Street between Grey Street and Serpentine Road, other than the City’s existing civic facilities,” she argues.
“The City is not concerned about lack of choice or options.
“But we see an opportunity to provide a service from our visitor centre.”
Ms Catherall asserts the City has previously asked businesses to operate at the Town Square, including during events.
“The response from businesses has been inconsistent and the City allows coffee vans and other pop ups to meet demand,” she added.
“The vacant commercial space was advertised extending the commercial opportunity to all existing and new local businesses…”
Counter to the Chamber’s advice that York Street is struggling, The Weekender has recently revealed the openings there of Blush Retail Gallery, Monk & Hound Barber Shop, Little Italy restaurant, and the relocation to palatial digs at Albany House of Mark Blyth Fine Jewellery.
* NOTE: this word was originally ‘colourfully’, and was meant to describe a submission that was ‘full of variety or interest’ as per the first definition by the Merriam-Webster online dictionary rather than the dictionary’s second definition: ‘of speech : RUDE, OFFENSIVE‘. The Weekender at no time wished to indicate that the Chamber’s submission included offensive or swear words.