Parry Street: a microcosm of urban renewal

I’ve become intrigued with one place in the West End, so much so that I find myself drawn back there regularly fascinated at how it has become a microcosm of the revitalisation that is transforming this part of the city.

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Parry Street begins in Cooks Hill, travels along one side of National Park, past Marketown until it turns and bends forming a cul-de-sac near Stewart Avenue. It’s this final end Parry Street at the corner of National Park Street that I’m fascinated with and the way it is defining placemaking.

This street is somewhere people want to be and here the West End is having a pseudo-Dickensian moment: right now Parry Street’s past, present and future are all here, sitting side by side as the street heaves and shifts in this time of transition.

Jax Tyres still sit on the corner its pungent rubbery odour signalling the street’s auto heritage which can still be seen in the car service businesses and the luxury Audi centre. The biggest sign of change has come at the former B. R. Gamer Motor Auction site, where its three large connected warehouses have been bought by the Burrell family who are transforming the space into a creative technical hub.

This sizzling creative hotspot featuring interior design and retail, media, digital and film is significant because this is just the kind of collaboration between artists and designers which has become a template for urban renewal. One of the warehouses has the sweetest coffee shop where the staff are all smiles and tea comes in pots with crocheted cosies.

Across the road the former Shirtmaster Dry Cleaning has morphed into The Edwards, a slick eating establishment which pays homage to its industrial past with light fittings made from parts of the site’s former clothes dryers. Admire them while you enjoy a glass of ‘whale ale’, surely the best-named craft beer. Nearby a ‘retro cellar’ sells fantastic treasures and I swear is the cheapest antique furniture shop in Newcastle. An events warehouse lends a stylish touch to the street, as do the numerous home ware stores.

The cul-de-sac end of Parry Street is actually an illusion, when you get there the street does a U-turn, running back toward the city parallel to King Street for about a block. It’s a pretty stretch, blessed by a corridor of leafy old fig trees which protect it from the traffic noise and create shafts of filtered light across the road.

It’s not the only hallowed part of the street though, that belongs to a religious organisation with the best name in Newcastle, the Christadelphian House of Testimony. It occupies a great hall-like space where they do a ‘breaking of bread ceremony’ and distribute free pamphlets with uplifting titles such as ‘Hope for a hopeless world’ and ‘Why does God allow suffering?’ Its Victorian solemnity could seem out of place in this vibrant street which is in the middle of such lively change, but I think it’s perfect: once again the West End delivers the unexpected.

 

Kimberly O’Sullivan

Have you chosen the West End as your home or as the perfect place to run your business? Do you have a West End tale which deserves a wider audience? What inspires and infuriates you about the West End? If you have a story to tell I would love to talk to you! Here’s how to find me: kimberly@netspace.net.au; 0413 250 155.

 

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