Hurdle to turn iconic site into cycling hub

Hurdle to turn iconic site into cycling hub Vision: Blake Forrester with collaborators Ross Ciavarella, Jarrett Wood, Nuala Shilling and Renata Daniel. Picture: Simone De Peak
Nanjing Night Net

The hut in 2005. Picture: Fiona Morris

The site in 2013. Picture: Darren Pateman

The site in 2013. Picture: Darren Pateman

TweetFacebookTHE new tenant of the iconic Lynch’s Prawns site on Newcastle’s harbour-front has requestedcommunity support to help clear the last hurdle to re-openingthe building.

More than a year after Newcastle City Council called forexpressions of interestto lease its 330 square metre property, it has approvedCentaur Cycles’development application to alter the building “for change of use to cafe, shop, business premises and signage”.

Centaur Cycles’ general managerBlake Forrester plans to openLynch’s Hub, a shared spacehe saidwouldcomprise bicycles for hire; a workshop with a mechanic and a tool stand forcyclists to do their own repairs;an espresso bar; and a tour desk where visitors can book with NOVA Cruises and Newcastle Heritage and Ghost Tours.

The Wharf Road site will also be a base forCentaur Cycles’pedicab businessRickshaw Revolution. Electric vehicles companyCatavolt will run pop-up workshops about installinge-bike kits.

“We want to contribute as an activation site for the foreshore parklands,” he said.“We also want weird, funky bicycles to be associated with Newcastle, to become Newcastle’s metre maids.”

But Mr Forrester said his vision still faced one significant challengeto becoming areality.

A council spokesperson said the terms of the EOI required any prospective lessor to undertake all necessary improvements.

“The proposed agreement includes the building in its present condition and a requirement for the lessor to refurbish the building and undertake any necessary external maintenance and internal fitout at their cost.”

But Mr Forrester said he hadnot expected thecouncil to refuse to help make itsbuilding compliant withmodern accessibility and safety standards and ensure access to essential utilities.

He has started an all-or-nothing Pozible crowd-funding campaignto raise$60,000 to save the building, which includesrestoring the roof, fixing broken windows and doors andbuilding wheelchair ramps. It closes on November 16.

“We’re not asking for a charitable donation,” he said. “This is a presale for a range of products, which will make good Christmas presents.If we don’t hit the goal, the whole project is at risk.”

Delia and Dennis Lynch started Lynch’s Bait Depotin 1934 andmoved in 1938 to a small site administered by about seven different authoritiesnext toDark’s Ice and Cold Storage.

Their sonPatand his wife Ainacontinued the business to the mid 1980s, when they lost thelease.Mr Forrester said the couple planned to close, but community outrage and petitions prompted the council to erect the current building close by.