Sydney Architecture Images- Glebe

Grace Bros Department Store Are You Being Served?

architect

 

location

Broadway

date

1923

style

Federation Queen Anne

construction

brick, originally copper domes

type

Shop
 

 
 
   
The landmark Grace Bros department store building on Broadway, with the distinctive and iconic clock towers and globes, is now the home of one of Sydney's unique shopping venues - The Broadway Shopping Centre.

Grace Bros had a long and rich history of retailing in Sydney since 1886. Through several different stores at varied locations in the city, the store first came to Bay St in 1904. Subsequent additions and property purchases over the years culminated in the existing buildings being completed in 1923. Grace Bros boasted a store with, among many features, "three and a half acres of furniture"! The Grace auditorium dominated the social life of Sydney with dances, fashion parades, children's events displays and pantomimes held within it. 1954 saw the Royal Visit of Queen Elizabeth II with the Broadway stores extensively decorated.

Due to changing retail patterns in the city, Grace Bros vacated the Broadway store in 1992. The building was resurrected as a multi-million dollar retail and cinema complex in 1998. The new state of the art complex, sensitively restored in compliance within the Heritage Commission guidelines, sees the grand old Grace Bros building now serving 21st century shoppers. One of the known, and loved, focal points of Sydney retailing has once again taken its place in Sydney's retailing story.
The Broadway Shopping Centre is currently one of the most successful Shopping Centres in Australia*, currently receiving over 11.1 million visitors per annum.

The Broadway Shopping Centre, originally the landmark Grace Bros department store building on Broadway, was built in 1904. The building was redeveloped in 1998 by the Walker Corporation and currently has three levels of retail space including Coles, Bi Lo, Kmart, Hoyts, Rebel Sport, Freedom, Harvey Norman, Harris Farm, a Medical Centre and over 125 specialty stores.

The Centre's expansion is in line with local population growth, which is forecast to grow by 11% over the next six years, and retail spending, which is forecast to grow at five to six per cent per annum for the next six years.

The expansion of the Centre will include a new level, Level Three, being added to the Centre together with three additional car parking levels. The new level will include Target and 30 specialty stores.

Broadway’s new level is planned to be completed in early 2007.


* Ranked No 1 for annual total centre turnover psm, when compared to the top 80 Regional Shopping Centres (Shopping Centre News, March 2005)

Grace Bros was an Australian retail chain that was bought by Coles Myer in 1983. There were 25 stores across NSW and the ACT, until they were re-branded under the Myer name in 2004.

History
Grace Bros had a long and rich history of retailing in Sydney following its founding by the Grace brothers, Albert Edward and Joseph Neal Grace, in 1885. The two brothers migrated from England in the 1880’s and sold goods door-to-door. In 1885, they opened their first small shop in George St City and by 1906, they had opened a five story building at Broadway (now the site of the Broadway Shopping Centre, Sydney). In 1931, Joseph Neal Grace died and Albert Grace became Managing Director of Grace Bros Ltd. Prior to his death in 1938, Albert Grace planned suburban expansion of the Grace Bros stores from the City, a move which is considered the reason Grace Bros survived when many of their contemporaries perished such as Anthony Hordern’s and Mark Foys. Isabel Grace died in 1970 at age of 86 years.

Broadway
Sydney's major Grace Bros was located on Broadway. Through several different stores at varied locations in the city, the store first came to Bay St in 1904. Subsequent additions and property purchases over the years culminated in the existing buildings being completed in 1923. Grace Bros boasted a store with, among many features, "three and a half acres of furniture"! The Grace auditorium dominated the social life of Sydney with dances, fashion parades, children's events displays and pantomimes held within it. 1954 saw the Royal Visit of Queen Elizabeth II with the Broadway stores extensively decorated. However, the center of Sydney shopping gradually moved from Broadway into the current CBD around Market and Pitt Sts, and Grace Bros vacated the Broadway store in 1992. The building was resurrected as a multi-million dollar retail and cinema complex in 1998.

The Grace Building
In 1926, the Grace Brothers, Albert Edward and Joseph Neal Grace, purchased a block of land on the corner of York, Clarence and King streets in Sydney, on which they would build the "Grace Building", the jewel in the crown of their retail empire. They believed the site was perfectly positioned for the building they planned would become "The Showpiece of the Company", with new public transport routes and the coming Sydney Harbour Bridge turning York and Clarence Streets in the major city thoroughfares. Company letterhead even showed the building as being "…on the Harbour Bridge Highway." Grace Bros. opened the Grace building in the city centre in 1930 believing when the Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened that York and Clarence Streets would be the city's main thoroughfares. Broadway had been affected by the shift of the city's commercial district toward Circular Quay and the changing public transport routes away from Sydney's South end, and so the Grace Building was to be the company's saviour. In 1943 Australia was at war and the Grace Building was requisitioned under national security regulations by the Federal Government for use as headquarters by the Supreme Commander of allied forces in the south-west Pacific, General Douglas MacArthur. In 1995, the Grace Building was purchased by Kuala Lumpur based Low Yat Group for adaptive reuse as a 382 room hotel, opening in 1997.

Suburban Expansion
In 1965, Australia's first suburban shopping centre opened at Roselands at a then cost $15 million. The centrepiece was a large Grace Bros department store. However at 4.30pm on 13 June 1969, a huge fire broke out on the 4th floor of the Grace Bros section of Roselands. Fire brigades from all over Sydney attended the huge blaze which caused thousands of dollars worth of damage before it was brought under control. Suburban stores were subsequently opened at Hurstville, Miranda, Parramatta, Penrith, Bondi Junction, Burwood, Blacktown, Castle Hill, Hornsby (opened 1980), Liverpool, Carlingford, Chatswood, Macquarie and Warringah. Regional stores were opened in Dubbo, Orange, Wollongong, Charlston, Erina, and Wagga Wagga. Some of the stores that have closed include Goulburn (closed 1995), Ulladaulla, Nowra (closed 2003), Tamworth (closed 2003), Cooma, Gordon, Maroubra Junction (became the Good Buy Clearance Centre in the 90s, closed in 2002 prior to the Maroubra Mall/Pacific Square redevelopment), Queanbeyan, Campbelltown, Bairnsdale and Mt Druitt.

Taken Over
In 1983, Grace Bros bought Myer NSW, and then in July Myer acquired Grace Bros Holdings Ltd. The Myer store on Market and Pitt Sts in Sydney became the main Grace Bros store. In 1985, the company became a division of the Coles-Myer corporation, and the Grace Bros stores effectively merged with the 35 Victorian based Myers stores. In February 2004 a marketing decision was made to rebrand all the stores as Myer stores. This decision brought the name of the Myer chain into line around Australia. It is thought that this was the largest and fastest rebranding exercise in recent Australian retail history.

Troubled times
The Myer chain, of which Grace Bros is now but a part, has been considered a burden upon other parts of the Coles-Myer corporation. In 2005, plans were made to sell the chain, which may result in its breakup, or the potential closure of underperforming stores.

Grace Bros Removals
Grace Bros Removals was established by Albert Edward and Joseph Neal Grace in Sydney in 1911. It is known today as the Grace Removals Group.

 

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links

http://www.broadway-centre.com.au/home.asp