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Building or Blunder? Why your favourite businesses have been closed.

On Monday 4thJune at approximately half past five in the evening, a loud crash, followed with a rumbling shake occurred within the back walls of the Acland St arcade on the Beach side (Woolworths arcade).The arcade houses Wooloworths, the shoe repairer, Tonik Hairdressing, the Chinese massage therapists and the famous swimwear/lingerie shop on the corner, Peach Bodywear. It happened unexpectedly, and quite quickly, raising the heads of the traders and customers who were inside the buildings. It was the first indication that something was askew.

Behind the rear walls of these shops, a building is being erected at 123 Acland St. Multiple stories of apartments built by Element Five developers has been rising from the ground relatively quickly. It has, until this day in June, been neatly kept from impacting the community by its high advertisement plasterboards featuring glossy images of what’s to transpire and safety scaffolding to allow pedestrian access on the sidewalks. Unfortunately, this orderly state was not to remain.

The clash was a wall that came tumbling down against its neighbouring building and was resting on the roofs and walls of our beloved shops. Fifteen minutes later, the roofs gave way and poles, plaster, rubble and in some cases, water, gushed through into the interiors. The weather that evening was cruel and a fierce storm of heavy winds and rain topped off any builder, shop owner and vendor’s worst nightmare. The damage allowed for more water to flood through during that week.

The water damage to the Chinese massage shop was slight- meaning they were reopened by the end of the week. The lingerie shop had their entire floor stock waterlogged and was closed immediately (as new flooring, roofing and walls were required).

The bulk of the damage was Tonik Hairdressing, where the roof literally collapsed, water came gushing through the walls where mirrors once hung and it has been closed until it’s reopening in the first week of September. St Kilda News spoke to Julie Hanley, Manager of Tonik, who recalled “I was standing in the basin area when I heard the crash, Jae went to see what had happened, and there was more damage by the time he got back”. Jae Teasdale, owner of Tonik, said “It’s been very hard to have to close the business for such a length of time…more than anything I’m just glad no one was hurt. One of my staff had just walked out of the kitchen area when the roof literally collapsed and poles fell like spears through the ceiling…”

It seems that there may have been a legitimate reason for such a catastrophe. Traders whose businesses suffered damage were told by a council surveyor that various trades were in dispute over tying and propping the walls, “as to who should be pinning the bricks to the woodwork and it apparently never got done”. Fate would have it that the weather would turn, and turn the unsafe worksite into a living, breathing hazard.  When Element Five Developers were contacted by St Kilda News, a very blunt “No Comment” was received.  The project continues to be built, and the traders are starting to pick up the pieces from the disaster. Peach Bodywear reopened after a fortnight, and have been trading throughout July and August. Abbey Road will reopen with completion of the block if all goes to plan.

Tonik Hairdressing will be the most anticipated of the businesses to open its doors again. There are many community members making the trek to Charlie in St Kilda Rd, where Jae and his team have been kindly accommodated, to continue seeing clients. As St Kilda is also a community where people make their way on foot, this has been very testing for both clients and staff. 50% of Tonik’s clientele comes from foot traffic. When asked about the potential loss in revenue, Jae shook his head and retorted, “I don’t want to think about that, I’m just looking forward to seeing the new salon finished”. The team will return and open the doors to a completely new salon with a completely new name. ‘Suite J’. Why?  “To be honest, we just felt that Tonik couldn’t be replaced or refitted. Sometimes it’s best to start afresh”. With a Parisian art deco interior, quite fitting with many a classic heritage St Kilda building, ‘Suite J’ is glossy and glam in its vision but sleek in its feel. The new name, ‘Suite J’, will be a new addition to the St Kilda local vernacular, in the new place of a much loved business that many a head will be glad to have back where it belongs.

Suite J will open its doors to both old and new clients in the first week of September.

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