Council evicts owner of landmark Queen Street Mall newsstand

Rankins on the Mall newsagent has been operating for 35 years. Photo: Lilly Curcio. Courtesy: Brisbane Times

The owners of a Queen Street Mall business that has been operating for 35 years have been evicted so the Brisbane City Council can knock down the newsstand and develop the area. 

Rankins on the Mall owner Ross Petersen told Fairfax Media on Thursday he was “devastated” after the council confirmed in writing he would be forced to leave on May 31. 

Mr Petersen said the council met with him on February 14 to confirm its development plan for the area, which included demolishing the newsagency.

After months of pushing for something in writing, Mr Petersen said he finally received the written notice on Wednesday and a call from the council on Thursday morning to confirm the eviction.

“We’re totally distraught, we want to be there,” he said. 

“To be discarded so cheaply is very upsetting.”

A spokeswoman for the lord mayor’s media team said Rankins had been operating under temporary permits since November 2014 and had been operating on a month-to-month basis in the past year.

“Rankins was offered an exclusive first chance to construct and operate in a new prime lease site in the Queen Street Mall when the council first revealed plans for the relocation of the retail area, however, the business rejected this offer,” she said.

“Rankins will have another opportunity to provide an expression of interest to lease the retail site at a later date.”

It is understood Mr Petersen had not put in a bid as the new opportunity and location was significantly different to his current location at an intersection and the new conditions were onerous. 

Design images of the upgrade show an empty space where the kiosk is, and what appears to be the new newsagent significantly further up the mall near the Myer Cente entrance.

Mr Petersen received the call about 11.10am and at 11.14am the council contacted media to reveal its plans to create a “mall for all” by redeveloping the space.

Finance and economic development chairman Krista Adams said council needed to capitalise on emerging opportunities and re-energise the Queen Street Mall so it remained a tourist destination and world-class shopping precinct.

“A vibrant and accessible Queen Street Mall supports businesses, which means a strong local economy and more jobs for Brisbane residents,” Cr Adams said.

“After consultation with more than 1000 stakeholders, the clear feedback was that the mall will benefit from larger open areas so that it can be a more active, inclusive and accessible space.

“Council’s upgrades will improve public space and pedestrian areas of the mall, as well as provide more opportunities for night-time trading, updated furniture and pop up retail and entertainment.”

Cr Adams said the upgrade would involve the redevelopment of the newsagency kiosk but she did not mention that the operators would be evicted and not operate the new kiosk.

“A new, smaller retail space featuring sub-tropical design elements will be constructed, further up the mall, near Wallace Bishop, and a new water feature will add to the vibrancy of the mall,” she said.

The spokeswoman for the lord mayor’s office confirmed Rankins on the Mall would be demolished and a new kiosk built.

Mr Petersen said he had put 250,000 hours into the business “and this how you get treated”.

“I’ve spent 35 years building the legacy to one of the best malls in the world and you get treated like that. We’re loyal, we’re devoted and it’s just appalling.”

Redevelopment of the area will begin mid-2018. 

Sourcehttps://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/council-evicts-owner-of-landmark-queen-street-mall-newsstand-20180329-p4z6w7.html