Circular Quay operators struggling to survive

17 May, 2018 by
Hospitality Magazine

Restaurants have revealed the struggles of renting from the state, citing rising electricity costs, sky-high rent and light rail construction as the reasons behind losses in trade and plummeting revenue.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, businesses leasing premises from Sydney Trains at Circular Quay station were hit with rental increases of 5 to 10 per cent in 2016, and have experienced annual rises of up to 3 per cent since.

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Steven Duff, owner of City Extra in Circular Quay, has revealed the perils of running a venue in the Circular Quay station, which he pays a staggering $1 million a year in rent for.

“We have had to put our coffee up to $5 just to stay in the ball game,” Duff told SMH. “And we’re no different to all the other people here.

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“I don’t think [the government] has got any comprehension of what it’s like to run and survive in a private business.”

Electricity costs have also risen, and Duff says they’re 30 per cent higher than last year. The business owner also estimates he’s lost up to 30 per cent in revenue due to the disruptions.

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Italian restaurant Rossini at the Quay has experienced similar turmoil and has been hit with identical rent rises as City Extra since 2016. The restaurant has also experienced a 15 to per cent loss in revenue after buses were re-routed from Circular Quay stops and the light rail project began.

When Duff requested a pause on annual rental rises from the state, he says it was declined without reason. However, Transport for NSW has confirmed they are in the process of finalising offers of rent reductions for small business tenants of buildings owned by transport agencies at Circular Quay.

“We have already started contacting these business owners and rent reduction will be backdated to December 2017,” said a spokesperson.

The George Street light rail project was initially slated for completion in October 2017, however it is said to be at least another year away.

And there’s more construction in the pipeline for Circular Quay. In April, Transport NSW confirmed the ferry wharves are also set for a $200 million redevelopment, which could impact access to the existing train station.

Safe to say, operators will continue to struggle for many years to come.

Image credit: SMH