The popular northern Gold Coast entertainment precinct has been made financially unviable by a rent increase of more than 100%.
In a shock announcement this afternoon, NightQuarter owners Michelle Christoe and Ian Van Der Woude have revealed that 1 February will be the final night of operation for the iconic night market, after site landlords Westfield shopping centre owners Scentre Group and the Queensland Investment Corporation demanded an estimated $400,000 p/a in rent in order to retain the site.
“We had an agreement for an extended term at the site subject to agreement on revised rent. The landlord was seeking more than double the rent for an extended five-year term. We tried numerous times to negotiate a revised agreement that worked for both parties, even directly contacting Scentre CEO, Mr Peter Allen, however there was limited opportunity to get to a deal that would have enabled us to stay at Helensvale.” Mr Van der Woude said.
Mr Van der Woude goes on to stress “Michelle and I are disappointed and saddened that we weren’t able to keep NightQuarter at Helensvale. We have invested so much into the venue both financially and emotionally over the past three years.”
“We looked at all the options, but in the end we needed to make a decision that was in the best interest of the company, our employees and our community of stallholders. We would have gone broke if we accepted what Scentre were offering.”
In operation since 2015, NightQuarter has taken on the role of the essential entertainment hub in the northern end of the Gold Coast, playing host to over 6,000 live performances and an astonishing 1.5 million ticket holders during its reign. Touring bands such as SAFIA, The Living End, Grinspoon, Xavier Rudd, Flight Facilities and Illy have all headlined unforgettable nights of music in The Paddock, while visitors were often treated to unique cocktails, dessert degustations, Drag Trivia, fire performers and acrobats as a regular part of their weekend entertainments.
Most importantly, NightQuarter passionately embraced all that the Gold Coast has to offer, providing a platform for local musicians, food vendors, local designers, artists and performers in one carnival-like and family friendly package every Friday and Saturday night. For the 50 direct staff, emerging performers, regulars, music lovers, foodies and the wider community in general, the loss of NightQuarter will be bitterly disappointing.
The venue’s social media has blown up in support today, with many angry commenters vowing to boycott Westfield over the decision that most are seeing as corporate greed at work.
“Well that signifies the last time I and many others will visit Westfield Helensvale,” claimed one Gold Coast resident, while another chimed in “The best we can do as a community of people is vote with our feet and wallets. Don’t support SCgroup (sic).” Overwhelmingly, the reaction from the community has created a picture of a business that has had an enormous impact during its relatively short time in operation and will be remembered with great fondness and nostalgia.
Before making the final decision, the NightQuarter owners searched extensively for an alternate site on the Gold Coast; but were unable to secure anything suitable. For Ian and Michelle, who invested their life savings into the business and were on hand constantly in order to ensure its success, the scenario is particularly dire. “We are devastated,” they told their followers in an emotional social media post this afternoon, “and we wish to highlight it was not an outcome that was foreseen and one that we fought against… A special thanks to our community of regulars that have been with us from the start… Not seeing your faces every week will be the hardest goodbye of all.”
Gold Coast is a city that often feels divided in its interests, with those attempting to cultivate and showcase our diversity, talent and cultural opportunities seemingly engaged in an endless tug-of-war with those who seek to develop non-stop and exploit every available parcel of land in the name of a quick buck. It is hard not to feel like this particular instance is entirely representative of that overall situation. It is bitterly ironic that the Scentre Group mission: “Creating extraordinary places, connecting and enriching communities” applies so well to the very business that they have forced into shutdown, and not to their own actions.
Vale, NightQuarter. Gone too soon, but never forgotten.
We understand that Nightquarter’s owners are working hard to find a new site. We’ll keep you posted.
Come have one last supper with the NightQuarter crew on its final three weekends, where you’ll catch an icecream festival, BBQ, Beats and Beers, roving fire spectacular as well as awesome live tunes from Electrik Lemonade, Live Heyer, Elska and more, with UB40 sending the place off with a bang on 1 February. NightQuarter is also welcoming the sharing of any fond memories on their Facebook page.
IMAGE: Crowd during Dune Rats at Best Night Ever in 2018 (c) Peter Wheeler Photography