Monday, January 31, 2005

Oh, the William St spin

'Ooh la landmark' was the headline over a plug for William St developers in the Herald's Domain on Thursday. A developer trying to sell apartments on the Avenue still reckons it will be Sydney's Champs Elysees once the cars have gone underground and it's all grey granite and plane trees.

Council's landscape architect (the one who believes 'consistent' equals 'attractive') says he expects life to be more civilised once traffic 'disappears'.

That's a no-brainer. No mention, though, of how council staff fought tooth and nail to eliminate or minimise the cycle lanes -- they must not be 'civilised' in his eyes. If the comparison with European cities was continued, council's attitude would show up as more on the barbaric end of the continuum.

And no mention of any idea that 'grand plans' imposed from above are always anti-resident. The avenue is already alienating because of its sheer scale (humans don't feel comfortable if there are no boundaries to the space they are in). This is only made worse by the uniformity of paving, tree species and official banners that will run from Town Hall to the Cross.

This 'consistency' is in fact psychologically disturbing to locals because it makes it virtually impossible for any sense of place to differentiate the micro-precincts we live in. The lack of landmarks is disorienting, and that is one of the most urgent discomforts we can feel -- it's only a few degrees from the panic of being lost. You can never tell someone to 'meet me at the cafe on the corner with the jacarandas,' for instance, because jacarandas are verboten. It all has to work by street number and even they are hard to fnd on the skyscrapers.

No, it's all about paving the way for developers, as the Herald article demonstrates. Yet there is no mention of preserving the many charming, old buildings which might save the avenue from the super-alienating domination of high-rise with its consequent wind-tunnel effect, already acute. Horrible in winter.

The article goes on about 'concerns' about 'the world's oldest profession'. An expert says it won't go away. "It may well be that the gentrification of William Street displaces some of that activity into the back streets, but it's not going to get rid of it. It's got to be somewhere in the Cross." The developer has another 64 apartments to sell out of 91, priced from $400,000 to $2.5m.

Maybe Richard Clapton will feel inspired to write a reprise to 'Girls on the Avenue'. What about 'Coffee on the granite'? Doesn't really have a ring to it, does it.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

KX always the poor relation

A reader posted this comment below another story:

What on earth is NOT going on at the Rex Building?

BEFORE the conversion to residential, the tenants in the council-owned community units were:
KX Community and Information Centre,(KXCIC)
The Early Childhood Centre,
The KX Library,
An airless meeting room.

SINCE the conversion, the library after many moves is now operating in Darlinghurst Rd., the Earlly Childhood Centre has space in the Reg Murphy Activity Centre and the KXCIC after intense lobbying has returned to the Rex. However, the space is at rhe rear of the building
The council owned units are nnow of commercial lease and what of the area that that library occupied? It will, supposedly, be a community space. Has anyone seen the area? It is behind a latched door!

Latest news is that it will be ready for use in April, 2005.
In the meantime, community groups are denied space for various projects and have to scrounge around for commercial space or have their projects postposed if not abandoned. Why is KX always the poor relation when it comes to community facilllities?

Does the right hand know what the left hand is doing?

A member of the community went to see the Place Manager at the KX Neighbourhood Service Centre(NSC) requesting a grant for a community project and was told the cupboard was bare. Today, I read in the Sydney City Mag of council grants available. The place to collect the necessary info kit is from your NSC from Feb 7.