The Brunswick St Mall facelift is now complete (see Brisbane Times coverage), but I remain of the view that the Mall should have been re-opened to traffic instead. From an economic perspective, I suspect the costs of having a mall on Brunswick St outweigh the benefits, as I noted in a post in 2012 (Opening Brunswick St Mall to traffic is a great idea):
The best option…is probably to get rid of the Mall altogether and replace it with four lanes of traffic, so that Brunswick St runs continuously all the way from the Valley fiveways at St Paul’s Terrace down to New Farm Park. This would yield major gains in reduced travel times…My intuition tells me that these travel time savings would swamp any reductions in profits earned by businesses currently on the Mall, and a cost-benefit analysis would show a high rate of return from re-opening the mall to traffic.
My doubts about the economic benefits of the Mall upgrade were added to by comments by the Valley Chamber of Commerce President that one of the objectives of the Mall upgrade was to divert business from Emporium and Gasworks. That is, it might lead to a reallocation of spending and business activity from elsewhere in Brisbane, but it won’t necessarily create any new activity.
Re-opening Brunswick St Mall to traffic may also have brought a benefit through cleaning up that area of Brunswick St north of the Mall to the fiveways, one of the seediest strips in Brisbane and a frequent scene of drug dealer arrests. I suspect a more desirable mix of businesses would locate in the area if there was a much larger amount of passing traffic.