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The iconic Oxford Street in Sydney is facing tough times, with retailers reporting significant decreases in sales. The street is undergoing a major redevelopment known as the Oxford & Foley project, which has turned almost three blocks into a construction site for years. This has led to a significant decrease in foot traffic and has impacted businesses like Aussie Boys, where sales are down by 30 per cent. The $200 million project has been stalled, with construction workers locked out of the site and security guards stationed along the street.

The delay in the completion of the Oxford & Foley project has caused concern among retailers and the community. The project was initially scheduled to be completed in 2023, but is now projected to be finished in the first half of 2025. Despite the setbacks, a spokeswoman for the developer Toga mentioned that there has been strong commercial and leasing interest in the available retail and shopfront space. However, businesses like Big Poppa’s have been forced to close temporarily due to the decrease in foot traffic in the area.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore has acknowledged the challenges faced by retailers on Oxford Street, attributing some of the issues to the construction delays and the impact of online shopping and large shopping centres on the strip. Moore also mentioned that the council is working towards creating a greener Oxford Street with improved pedestrian activity and cycling. However, some councillors have criticized Moore for the street’s decline under her leadership, pointing out that businesses are struggling due to the slow pace of the redevelopment.

The construction of new bike lanes in the area has added to the frustration of shop owners who feel that the loss of parking and traffic lanes is negatively impacting their businesses. The Oxford & Foley project was meant to be the centrepiece of Oxford Street’s revitalization, but delays in construction have led to high vacancy rates and a decline in foot traffic. Despite these challenges, there is hope that once the project is completed, it will have a positive impact on the area in the long term.

Business owners in the area have expressed concern about the lack of support from landlords who are unwilling to negotiate on rents, and the impact of the construction on their livelihoods. While the redevelopment is seen as a long-term positive for the area, the immediate impact on businesses has been challenging. The Darlinghurst Business Partnership president Stephan Gyory mentioned that new planning rules will help protect Oxford Street’s nightlife, but it remains to be seen how long it will take for the street to regain its vibrancy and appeal to locals and tourists alike.

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