Belinda Willis – SA Business Journal
WHEN the Ginos Group bought all 10 properties in historic Leigh St about nine years ago, more than 60 per cent of the space was empty.
Now the bustling street has been closed to traffic in a six-month revitalising Adelaide trial, with property manager George Ginos saying all its buildings were now filled with almost 60 tenants.
The Ginos Group is now turning its attention to nearby Peel St, where in January it bought a building that engulfs a sizeable slab of its frontage.
Peel St is on the eastern side of Leigh St – and is in a similar state to where it started with the Ginos Group in 2003.
Mr Ginos admits its new building is in “a pretty raw state” with only two tenants, but the group was already in talks with three potentials for a bar, an eatery and an office space.
“We have plans for seven tenancies but this may increase or decrease depending on what sizes potential tenants are interested in leasing. Its current square meterage is approximately 1500sq m,” Mr Ginos said.
He believed the group’s philosophy of first refurbishing the street’s decaying buildings to “a high quality” and then finding the right tenants to bring them to life was working.
In Leigh St, it started with the group luring high-profile ad agency Clemenger BBDO into the precinct.
“Attracting a tenant the calibre of Clemenger was a real coup for us,” Mr Ginos said. “It wasn’t easy to get someone to move into the city off Hindley St at that stage, but they could see the potential.
“(It was about) something that Dad built into the business, don’t compromise on quality, whether it’s in the tenant, the fit-out or how we do our refurbishments, quality is the key.” Since then the street has gradually filled with humming businesses like the Coffee Branch, Hardy Milazzo architectural and interior design studio, Casablabla tapas bar and the cool new Udaberri bar.
Mr Ginos said it also had the right tenants above the street-front eateries and cafes. This meant they would meet clients in the downstairs restaurants for lunch and have Friday night knock-off drinks in the nearby bar.
“The relationship between the retail on the ground floor and the offices above really needs to gel,” he said.
The company, started by George’s father Zis, is in the process of rebranding from Ginos Engineers, as its property arm continues to grow.
It also bought the Regent Arcade off Rundle Mall six years ago, attracting high-profile tenants Rip Curl and Adidas into its buildings.
The group’s makeover of its Rip Curl in-fill building with Woodhead Architects – linking the State Heritage-listed Adelaide Arcade and Regent Arcade buildings – won an Award of Merit in 2007 at the state architecture awards. The latest tenant it expects to attract foot traffic is the Red Cross Blood Service donor centre, which recently opened at the arcade’s Grenfell St entrance.
While there were many city precincts showing potential, Mr Ginos points to the central, open space in Victoria Square, where it “would be great to have this as an area that people can use on different levels on a daily basis so that it becomes a focal point for Adelaide”.
Mr Ginos is heartened to see government and councils working together to revitalise the city. “It’s taken us 10 years to get to this point at Leigh St,” he said.
“People say you must be happy the Leigh St project is coming to an end, but there’s always a lot more to do, there’s laneways, basements, roof-tops we can utilise and work out how we can make those spaces useful.”