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Clovelly Road Shop Closures a Sign of the Times

By Joel Bevilacqua on March 27, 2019 in News

Very sad indeed, by James Hutton.

Clovelly locals and others who frequently traverse Clovelly Road would be aware of the concerning number of shop vacancies in the retail hub at the top of the street.

The closure of the much loved DeNavi’s Delish Deli in August last year means there are now five vacant spaces amongst the short stretch of shops. The Beast spoke to several former and current business owners in the area in an attempt to better understand why so many stores are shutting up shop.

Clodeli owner Christine Papadopoulos believes unrealistic rent increases are largely to blame for the shop closures and the empty spaces remaining vacant for so long.

“A few of them (landlords), from what I’ve heard, are asking for quite high rents and it’s turning quite a few people away from renting the spaces,” Ms Papadopoulos told The Beast.

“It’s really sad because half the street is empty when you look at it.”

Owner of the Green Mango cafe, Hanka, said rent-hikes are putting significant pressure on her business.

“It (the rent) just keeps going up every year,” she explained. “We can’t keep putting up our prices accordingly.”

Both Papadopoulos and Hanka said that if the rent was as high as it is now when they were first starting off they would never have moved into the street. Hanka also said the lack of parking for customers is a major issue. She said customers are frequently complaining that they cannot find a park in the area and as a result cannot stop in as often as they would like.

In August last year, after 25 years of operation, Michael DeNavi and his wife Mary-Anne shut the doors of their deli for good. Mr DeNavi confirmed the aforementioned issues, rent-hikes and inadequate parking for customers, had taken their toll.

Mr DeNavi also blamed a domino effect that began when the butcher shut over six years ago. He said there was a far greater variety of shops when he first moved in and that the diversity attracted more foot-traffic.

“When there’s a vacant shop there’s less reason for people to come,” Mr DeNavi said. “It all just snowballs eventually.”
Despite the many closures, harm caused by vacant spaces and the tremendous pressure this is placing on businesses still operating in the area, Mr DeNavi said certain landlords remain unsympathetic and disinterested in negotiation.

Rapid gentrification in the area may also be partly to blame. According to a joint study conducted by Aussie Home Loans and Core Logic, when DeNavi’s first opened its doors back in 1993 the median house price in Clovelly was just $273,000. Just before DeNavi’s shut its doors in August last year this price had climbed to $3.3 million. Higher house prices mean a new demographic with different shopping habits.

Co-owner of Village on Cloey, Simon Hoc, suggested the changing demographic in the area may have affected some businesses.
“A lot of the people that lived in Clovelly used to shop in Clovelly, they were very insular, but now you’ve got a new breed of people coming in that aren’t as tied to the area,” he said.

Over six months after vacating, the old DeNavi’s space remains empty. A sign announcing its closure still hangs from the front window and on it a loyal customer has left a message: “So sad. We will miss you!”

In happier news, the sign also advertises that Mary-Anne’s famous Christmas puddings can still be ordered online from denavis.com.au. Mr DeNavi told The Beast these will be available again this year, kindly distributed via Green Mango.

Randwick Council is conducting a consultation aimed at developing a masterplan for Clovelly Road and is seeking public input. Have your say at www.yoursay.randwick.nsw.gov.au/clovellyroadmasterplan.