Green Square at Kingston. Photo: Graham Tidy
Canberra businessman Pawl Cubbin says reinstating grass for families to spread out a rug on and watch their children play will revive Kingston's languishing Green Square.
Mr Cubbin and restaurant owner Socrates Kochinos own the building where the Holy Grail is about to close after 16 years as one of the inner south's colourful watering holes.
Licensee Ian Meldrum, who catered for politicians, lobbyists, staffers and journalists, is unable to contend with rising costs and declining business activity at the shopping centre. His departure follows several others in recent years, including Cusack's Furniture Shop, Filthy McFadden's Pub and Video Ezy.
Traders have since campaigned unsuccessfully for the return of Green Square's grass, which has been replaced with native grass.
Mr Cubbin and Mr Kochinos have planning approval to redevelop the Holy Grail site as a licensed premises.
Mr Cubbin said grass surfaces made a huge difference at Manuka over an area smaller than Green Square.
If the ACT government put grass in, he would approach other traders in the shopping centre to band together and water, mow and maintain it.
Mr Cubbin said Green Square was much like Lake Burley Griffin as a potential gathering place for the community.
''You can't get people to interact with the lake, it's got walls all around it. Why don't people go there? Because they can't access it.
''Why don't people go to Kingston? Because there's no grass, there's no park any more.''
Redeveloping Holy Grail would involve maximising the block and building a new facade.
''We have a concept for a building, it has a lot of character. We have done research into the Rocks [Sydney], and want to extend and re-theme the building.''
The owners hoped to inspire people, including a tenant, with their concept, which includes reinstating a park.
Kingston and Barton Residents Group spokesman Nick Swain said shop owners were waiting to see what developed on a car park opposite Green Square, before updating their businesses.
''Traders will have the best idea. I will leave it to their commercial judgment,'' he said.
Mr Swain said people still enjoyed a cup of coffee in Green Square, which needed more shops and diversity.
Mr Cubbin said investing in Green Square would not detract from the government's foreshore redevelopment.
''I personally believe people are after character in the area.
''I think as good as the foreshore is going to be, the Kingston shops will always be the heart of Kingston.
''You have to play to your strengths. Green Square is definitely a strength, so why don't we make it work harder?''