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FAQ

WHAT MAKES A GOOD RENEW MELBOURNE PROJECT?

There is no simple answer to that question but here are a few things that work for us:

It adds life to the city – The whole point of Renew Melbourne is to bring vacant spaces back to life. For shopfronts we need projects that will bring people to an area, that will be open most of the time and will bring a smile to people’s faces! Projects that are about using shopfronts for storage, or offices, or things that are rarely opened or hidden away are not the best use for a vacant space.

It is unique – Renew Melbourne is not about turning the city into another suburban shopping centre or filling every shop with one type of gallery. It is about making Melbourne a place with a wide variety of unique creative things and energies and getting the best of Melbourne out and on display. Projects that showcase people making and presenting original things in Melbourne really tick our boxes.

It has a high degree of professionalism or a very clear idea – We have a limited number of spaces available so our highest priority will go to people who are serious about what they are doing and have a very clear idea of what they are trying to achieve. A shopfront may not be the best place to try out a new idea — our spaces are more suitable for people who are trying to take what they do to another level. The more you can demonstrate that you know what you are doing and why you are doing it, the easier it is for us to get behind it.

It is ongoing – Renew Melbourne is after projects that will make ongoing uses of the spaces. If you are after a space for a single exhibition, for a few hours a day or for a series of classes or workshops, we would encourage you to look into other options as we don’t have the resources to administer this kind of usage.

It is ready – Taking on a shopfront or opening an office or studio can be a major commitment. Renew Melbourne is keen to support people who are ready to take that step up but it can be a major commitment if you aren’t prepared for it. Ideal projects are ones where it is the logical next step based on what you’ve already been doing, and not a leap into the unknown.

It has the support of the property owner – Renew Melbourne doesn’t own or control any properties. For a project to happen it needs someone with a suitable property to get behind it. If we don’t have a space that fits it we can’t make it happen.

WHAT DOES RENEW MELBOURNE DO?

Renew Melbourne brings transitional buildings in Melbourne to life again. Property owners license their buildings or shopfronts to Renew Melbourne while they have no tenants or are awaiting redevelopment.

Renew Melbourne manages the short-term use of these spaces, we provide Public Liability Insurance, can assist with basic maintenance (a fresh coat of paint, a clean and fixing up the broken windows) and cover basic insurances while the buildings are in Renew Melbourne’s care.

Renew Melbourne supports the property owner to the maximum extent possible to ensure that their involvement is tax effective and their contribution is seen as a positive contribution to the community. Renew Melbourne then finds “custodians” who use the buildings for cultural, creative and community purposes until the owner finds a permanent tenant or a redevelopment is ready to proceed. We believe that activity is the single most important factor in turning around vandalism and decay of a vacant space.

HOW DOES RENEW MELBOURNE SELECT PROJECTS?

When we receive applications, Renew Melbourne weighs them up against a variety of factors. We compare them to other applications we have received and to properties that might be available. No matter how good a project is – if we don’t have a suitable property, we are not in any position to do anything about it.

Renew Melbourne prioritises projects based on how ready they are to proceed and how difficult they would be to achieve with the resources available. We also try hard to make the best use of any given area (so that projects near each other are complimentary and not incompatible) and look for projects that will make the best use of the available spaces.

Renew Melbourne makes short lists of potential projects and works with the property owners — who ultimately make the final decision about what they are willing to make their properties available for — to make the final selections. After receiving your written submission, if we think your project could be suitable for a space we have available, we will meet with you and assess the project in more detail. If the project needs more thought and development, we can sometimes provide advice and assistance, depending on the circumstances.

HOW LONG DOES RENEW MELBOURNE HAVE PROPERTIES FOR?

Renew Melbourne’s default license agreement is based on accessing the property on a rolling 30 day basis. That means that Property Owners can give 30 days’ notice at any time should they receive a commercial offer or need to proceed with development. This enables the property owner to provide the property without sacrificing the potential commercial returns and is one of the key reasons why properties are made available so cheaply.

As the initiative is based on temporary use it is inevitable that projects will be given notice to vacate – this has happened to many projects so far. When that happens, Renew Melbourne will work with projects to find new sites but this can not be guaranteed – it depends if we have a suitable empty space available at the time. There may be instances of fixed term licenses in the future but projects are advised to plan on the basis of a rolling 30-day period of use.

HOW MUCH DO PROPERTIES COST? IS IT SUBSIDISED?

Renew Melbourne trades lack of security in a property for lack of rent. The amount payable to use a space is considerably less than going commercial rates – most of our projects are only paying a $20 per week Participation Fee.

In each case the cost depends on what we can negotiate with each property owner and how much each project can afford. Renew Melbourne itself collects only a maintenance fee (so we can keep properties clean and in good order) rather than a commercial rent.

However, all Renew Melbourne agreements have reviews built into them. If you start a commercial business (or you can get more funding for your not-for-profit project) and you eventually end up turning over good money we’d gradually expect you to start paying closer to a commercial rent directly to the property owners when you can afford to. Our aim is to nurture projects that eventually don’t need our support.

WHY ISN’T THE ANSWER TO MY QUESTION HERE?

Probably because no one has asked us yet – either that or we’ve been busy and we haven’t updated these in a while. Try the Contact Us section and ask us!

HAVE THEIR BEEN SIMILAR PROJECTS LIKE THIS RUN BEFORE?

Yes! Find out more about Renew Newcastle and Renew Adelaide as examples. There’s been over 120 projects accepted through Renew Newcastle. Be inspired here.

I’M INTERESTED IN STARTING MY OWN RENEW-STYLE INITIATIVE IN MY OWN TOWN – TELL ME HOW TO GET STARTED!

We are interested in hearing from people that would like to set up a similar initiatives in their own city or town, we are always keen to give advice and share our experience where we can. So if you are interested Contact Us today.

CAN YOU HELP ME ACCESS A SPECIFIC BUILDING?

In most cases no. Renew Melbourne matches willing property owners with great projects however, we are most effectively able to match projects with requested building types: such as a shop front or an office rather than a specific building.

We do encourage participants to approach property owners independently of Renew using the DIY Tools on the Renew Australia website.

WHAT IF I ALREADY HAVE A BUSINESS, CAN I MOVE IT TO A CHEAP SPACE?

If you already rent a property for your business, no. Projects that involve relocating from an existing commercial space to a subsidised one are ineligible. It is very important for Renew Melbourne that we don’t undermine existing businesses and existing commercial tenancies in Melbourne. We are prioritising new projects and initiatives that do not directly compete with the viable businesses in Melbourne – we don’t want to make things worse!

Our priority is to encourage original creative projects and community initiatives. For example, if you wanted to open a fashion retail store then the property owners and we would need to be convinced that your shop won’t take business away from other retailers. In most cases original works or products – things which you have made yourself – don’t compete with these existing retailers. So, if you make original clothes, or bags, or jewellery, and you have no retail presence then we would strongly encourage you to apply – you’re exactly who we are looking for.

If you are an artist or craftsperson who is currently working from home or running a creative enterprise in Melbourne then we’d love to hear from you!

CAN I PROPOSE A SINGLE EXHIBITION OR DO I NEED TO TAKE OVER A SHOP FOR A WHILE?

Renew Melbourne is keen to hear from people with short, medium and long term plans for empty property in Melbourne. A short-term use could be a single exhibition that may take only a few days or weeks. A medium term use could be for a month up to a year and a long-term use could be ongoing or indefinite.

However, Renew Melbourne is looking to prioritise matching projects with available spaces, and wherever possible we would like to encourage medium and long term uses. Ideally we’d like to do it in a way that is as simple for us and for you as possible. Medium & longer-term uses are much easier for us to facilitate, and it contributes to the ongoing life of the city.

For example, it is much easier for us to make a building available to a group or individual that wants to run a gallery and have the gallery organise a series of exhibitions than it is for us to find space for many single exhibitions managed by different people. In that case, we could also pass on exhibition proposals to those who are running a gallery.

CAN I USE A RENEW MELBOURNE PROPERTY TO START A COMMERCIAL BUSINESS?

Yes, providing it’s a creative or cultural enterprise of some kind (we take a pretty open view of what that means, so try us if you have an idea). We don’t mind if you try and make a going business out of your Renew Melbourne project – we actually encourage it. Renew Melbourne is trying to stimulate things that will go on and be viable businesses and become viable tenants that bring life back to the city.

The only key criteria on this is that the business can’t be directly competing with existing businesses in the area. We don’t want to be undermining other people who are already doing it tough.

CAN I LIVE IN A RENEW MELBOURNE PROPERTY?

No sorry.

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