Twenty years ago, one was able to walk from Pulteney Street to Gawler Place without seeing daylight by entering Renaissance Arcade in The Mansions building, heading down the escalator into the basement of John Martins, into the food court of The Gallerie Arcade and then up the stairs into Gawler Place. Of course, this all changed in 1998 with the closure and subsequent demolition of John Martin’s department store.
Since Johnnie’s closure in 1998 the former Gallerie Arcade has stood empty, albeit for brief periods of revitalisation such as Tuxedo Cat’s use of the building as an art space. A small section fronting Gawler Place had a period of retail use several years ago as a kitchenware outlet but this was short lived. Once this store closed, the building was stripped out and more or less forgotten.
The Gallerie building comprises five floors and three separately linked buildings, including the heritage listed G&R Wills Building. In recent years, the building has been heavily vandalised internally. However, the majority of this is cosmetic damage, with shop fittings, electrical wiring, plumbing and escalators removed years ago.
My memories of The Gallerie are hazy, but I do recall the coffee shop/restaurant on the first floor at the Gawler Place entrance. And the food court which I used to frequent on my way through to John Martins (the music section of John Martins was in the basement and I used to buy my vinyl LP’s and cassettes there!).
After standing empty for the best part of twenty years, plans have been approved via the Development Assessment Commission for a 19 storey, mixed residential/commercial tower to occupy at least a part of the former Gallerie site. Plans for the remainder of the site are at this point unknown.
It is somewhat amazing that a building of this size and scale can stand empty in the middle of a modern city for twenty years. Perhaps this is testament to the changing face of retail or the rigour of our current building rules which make re-purposing older buildings an onerous task.
I captured hundreds of images within The Gallerie, over multiple explores (thanks to Wildstar for accompanying me). It must be noted that these images are nearly two years old and do not accurately reflect the current state of vandalism within. I have been advised that the building is now equipped with state-of-the-art surveillance and regular security patrols.
Anyone else remember The Gallerie??