Beyond Q followed to Weston by Curtin community drama
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Beyond Q followed to Weston by Curtin community drama

Beyond Q bookshop owner Simon Maddox was turfed out of the Curtin shops, but the community and the development saga have followed him to his new location in Weston.

Mr Maddox was evicted from the building before it was boarded up by its owners, the Haridemos family, in 2017. But he maintains about 50 per cent of his Curtin customer base, having run the bookshop there for 17 years.

Beyond Q owner Simon Maddox ran his bookshop business in Curtin for 17 years. About 15 of those were spent in the controversial Curtin shops, while two were spent in an adjoining building.

Beyond Q owner Simon Maddox ran his bookshop business in Curtin for 17 years. About 15 of those were spent in the controversial Curtin shops, while two were spent in an adjoining building.Credit:Elesa Kurtz

"What made Curtin stand apart from other places for a lot of people was [the artisan grocer] and us. Slowly, everyone was starting to make it a little more interesting," Mr Maddox said.

"So many of them have followed us here and keep supporting us in the same way they did there."

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Beyond Q was evicted from the building in August 2017.

Mr Maddox claims he is still waiting on about $10,000 in bond money from the Haridemos family after a dispute about the amount owed. A representative of the family said the family and their developers act at all times with professionalism, integrity, and consideration.

Mr Maddox takes issue with an approved proposal to demolish the 56-year-old Curtin shops and replace it with a five-storey mixed-use building.

The revised proposal, which was approved in January 2018 after an initial six-storey one was knocked back in 2017, calls for 36 residential apartments and a ground-floor retail space.

It has also been reduced down to one level where the building meets Curtin Square.

The strain on retailers around the square was because of drawn-out development processes and residents should not settle for an inefficient building, Mr Maddox said.

"You'd think if you were a good [building] manager you'd actually get your plans approved, get a contract ready [before you closed the shops] ... so there would be very little disruption to the community," he said.

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"Having talked to a lot of architects and a lot of other people, a two-storey building can be financially viable."

Beyond Q is one of seven independent bookshops remaining in the ACT. That would soon become six, with the owner of Ron's Bookshop, Ron Roberston, announcing this week he would close its doors on April 30.

"I've been here since 2004. When the real estate put a 'for sale' sign on the store, people assumed I had closed. Business went down by 60 per cent but my rent [stayed] the same," Mr Roberston said.

Beyond Q in Weston is of a similar size to the former Curtin shop, but an extension is set to be constructed within a couple of weeks to allow for an extra 150-person-capacity entertainment space.

"We've had to sign a ten-year lease with an option for the next ten years, and we'll be paying $16,000 a month as soon as the extension is built," Mr Maddox said.

The Haridemos family ineffectively managed the existing Curtin shops building in the many years Mr Maddox was there, he said.

"Brick walls [on the building] were tumbling down for five or six years and the bricks were just left in a pile on the footpath," he said.

"We had sewage that ... would go up the [broken] waste pipes and splatter all the cars out there."

The Curtin development is subject to confidential ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal mediation proceedings, the Haridemos family's representative said, so it would not be appropriate to comment.

Mr Maddox is a member of the Curtin Residents Association, which is taking on planning authorities at the tribunal over the development, but he is not part of the proceedings.

Cassandra Morgan is a reporter at The Canberra Times. She was previously a breaking news reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald.

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