Building relationships with property owners and managers

One of Create, Innovate Gosford's early successes was a relationship with local real estate agents, which developed from GBID's existing relationships with property managers in the CBD.

At the beginning of the project, local real estate agent Peter Turnbull from Citicoast Realty volunteered to conduct an audit of vacant retail properties (Audit of Gosford CBD 2010).

An audit of Gosford CBD showing over 80 empty shopfronts


Deborah Lowndes said:

It's easier for us to talk to one real estate agent who manages four or five different owners, as opposed to us trying to build relationships with four or five different owners. If we build the trust of agents, then we are saving ourselves a whole lot of work.

Real estate agents being involved has meant easier facilitation of negotiating and using properties.

Real Estate Agent Rob Wilcox, who manages almost 90 per cent of retail properties in the CBD, is involved because he is:

trying to seek a new tenant for the landlord. That's the overarching thing; I put my landlord hat on and say, 'What can I do to get somebody into that shop?' And that was the rationale.

For Rob, the appeal lies in the temporary or 'meanwhile' nature of the project. Empty shopfronts that look unappealing can be used by creative enterprise to show the potential of a space, and this is a point of advantage.

Of concern for real estate agents were:

  • Plate-glass insurance - which it was agreed would be covered by the artists
  • License Agreement ensuring the artists take proper care of a property.

However, having reviewed the Renew Newcastle license agreement template, Rob Wilcox found it a reasonable document that was "flexible enough" for property owners.

His advice to other real estate agents being invited to get involved in an empty space initiative:

Consider it on its merits and look at the benefit it might bring. If you have a number of vacant shops, instead of having a vacancy, have somebody in there and make it look not disused. There's nothing worse than having a vacant shop.

Attachment(click to download)
Gosford_empty_spaces_audit.pdf6.88 MB