Beaufort Street Vacancy Project
Responding to the increasing publicity regarding vacancy rates along Beaufort Street the Cities of Vincent and Stirling established the Vacancy Project in late 2019 to facilitate short term occupancy of untenanted retail space. The objective of the project, as defined and developed by the Cities, was to identify the cause of a recent increase in vacancies and to investigate opportunities to maximise activation, foot traffic and the daytime population by diversifying the street offer.
The initiative proposed a lease agreement that enables managing agents and landowners to continue to market properties for longer term lease, whilst offering the spaces for discounted and shorter-term periods. The project also included a component of business development - aiming to attract shorter term tenants, with providing a ‘foot in the door’ approach which would ideally lead to longer term tenants. This process was designed to reposition Beaufort Street as a place to stroll, attracting pedestrians back to this previously bustling precinct.
element was engaged to undertake research and stakeholder engagement to determine the underlying causes of Beaufort Street’s recent decline. This involved research into the property market, retail trends, discussions with property owners and agents, and benchmarking short term rental projects.
Concurrent to investigating these issues, element developed and released an expression of interest for short term rental spaces – targeting small businesses transiting from online or markets, arts and cultural organisations, and businesses with the potential to activate the street. Appropriate short-term tenants were connected to interested agents and landowners, with guidance provided on lease arrangements.
The findings from these activities were synthesised into a report, outlining the opportunities for Beaufort Street, beyond short term activations.
The project revealed that a major barrier to occupancy and activation was negative communication. In addressing this, the outcomes were:
- A greater understanding of the drivers behind Beaufort St, and other town centres’ ongoing issues with vacancies, and the sentiment of landowners and agents.
- Identification of local Perth businesses and sectors looking to expand into bricks and mortar retailing.
- A shift from short-term thinking to a longer-term approach to revitalise the street.
What We Delivered
- An expression of interest delivered through City of Stirling and City of Vincent concurrently, resulting in over 30 responses from local businesses looking for short term rental space.
- A Findings Report detailing the various causes for issues, including retail trends, economic issues, property prices, negative media.
- A Recommendations Report of potential next steps for the Cities to pursue in order to continue building on the learnings from this project and continue contributing to the revival of this iconic precinct. These included: short term activations, upgrades to amenities, communications and recommendations relating to council policies and rates.