Degraves St: Listing a chance to evolve Melbourne’s laneway culture
The epicentre of Melbourne’s laneway culture is up for lease, and its next tenant could set in motion the next evolution of one of the city’s most internationally recognised spots.
A 112sq m corner shop at the intersection of Degraves St and Flinders Lane is being touted as a future home for a luxury brand amid changing fortunes for the Instagram hot spot.
Previously home to Aussie bag and luggage store Crumpler, the 40-44 Degraves St property is one of the most visible spots in the tourist destination known for its coffee and Parisian-style street dining.
Despite this, Ainsworth Property associate Josh Luftig is not expecting a cafe, restaurant or even a clothes store to set up shop at the prominent site.
Mr Luftig said staffing for eateries was still challenging as Covid-19 continues to impact workforces and many clothes store operators in the area were yet to see trade return to pre-pandemic levels.
“So we are thinking it wouldn’t be your typical cafe or hospitality business, and fashion doesn’t really work,” Mr Luftig said.
“It could be a retailer, but a service-based one.”
He suggested “something more bespoke” such as luxury perfume brands, designer shoe stores and even high-end watch stores would be the kind of businesses that could make the site’s exposure and passing traffic work for them.
The property’s lease advertisement points out that the bluestone paved pedestrian strip is named for William and Charles Degraves who ran a flour mill on the street in the 1850s, with the area having been through several evolutions since.
Mr Luftig said while the pandemic had forced change to Melbourne’s laneway scene, he added that he believed its history and the prevalence of celebrated eateries along Flinders Lane nearby would ensure it remained in the limelight.
“Degraves is remarkable for its Parisian-style street trade and art and style culture, and certainly a lot of that has been lost through current issues,” he said.
“But if you think of international and national tourists coming to Melbourne, Degraves is that one place they will come to soak up that cafe and authentic laneway experience.”
Mr Luftig added that with a shortage of workers available some businesses in Degraves St were finding technology solutions to support a “much leaner workforce”.
He said those that would succeed going forward were more likely to bring a more engaging space to the table and make themselves a destination.
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