ARTICLE: THIS FIRST APPEARED IN CITY JOURNAL
Melbourne’s rising city has forced the closure of his city store, a record store iconic to its former home on Flinders Lane. Despite the recent rise of music piracy and online sales, Polyester owners Sam Karris and Nate Nott said it was the “out of control” commercial rent that forced their closure.
“It was always kind of expensive,” said co-owner Sam Karris.
“But it’s beginning to turn into Chadstone in the city now, and soon small companies like us won’t be able to survive on high-end streets anymore.”
The rent for Melbourne’s prime real estate is growing particularly due to international retailers, such as H&M and Uniqlo, moving into the CBD.
Overseas investments are pushing the CBD rent to new heights, with the bill per sq. /m reaching $8,800, much higher than the maximum of $5,800 in 2008, according to CBRE Australia.
This has also pushed Melbourne into the Top Ten most expensive cities for prime real estate in the world.
This if forcing the smaller, independent retail and hospitality stores to relocate to the outer suburbs.
One woman still battling the city’s exorbitant rent is Rachel Ward, owner of café Kartel on Lt. Collins St.
Since opening her cafe in the city seven years ago, she said there’s been a turnover of over 16 businesses around her.
“I don’t know how I’ve managed to stay here so long,” she said, “as the rent is just ridiculous.
“It really seems like only big names can afford to stay here.”
And the rent looks set to rise even higher, with large shopping complexes beginning to open in the CBD.
Melbourne’s newly establish Emporium is home for more than 350 retailers and spans a gigantic 45,000 sq. /m.
This makes life tough for stores lining Melbourne’s many laneways.
As space in the CBD is taken up by big businesses, the adjacent property becomes more limited and, as a result, more expensive.
For Polyester Records, which was a haven for international and local artists, they could only last six years in the city.
“The battle just wasn’t worth it anymore”, said Sam Karris.
Polyester now runs solely out of its one remaining store in Fitzroy.