It’s mid-morning on a Tuesday and Ann Street in Fortitude Valley is close to a standstill. Trams used to glide commuters to work but the tracks here were pulled up in the 1960s, leaving the Queensland capital with five and six-lane boulevards that swell with traffic every rush hour.
Developers Charlie and Arthur Apostolos grew up in Fortitude Valley, a kilometre northeast of the cbd, when it was a hub of light industry. Their father, George, was a Valley business owner and his family’s foothold in the area remains. His sons are renowned for enlivening the district’s “laneways”: the inconspicuous alleys that run off at right angles from main roads. In 2010 they launched Winn Lane, an alleyway off Winn Street that is now home to a thriving community of retailers and f&b entrepreneurs. But their latest creation, opened last year one block northwest, is even more ambitious.
Visitors walk into Bakery Lane off Ann Street through a narrow entrance and a tranquil courtyard. “We’re on one of the busiest streets in Brisbane,” says Charlie, “but you can’t really hear it.” The development is a sanctuary of 10 small shops and restaurants at ground level, with two upper floors of incubator suites and loft apartments prioritised for tenants. The ground-floor units are handsome, with wide windows – framed by brick and recycled timber – that look out onto the courtyard.
“We looked at the laneways and the business ecosystems you might find in Tokyo and Hong Kong,” says Arthur. “We realised you can run a business in a small space.”
The Apostolos brothers are also landlords; they own every shop space and can carefully vet the tenant mix. They have chosen to nurture young, inexperienced retailers. “They have a great vision for what the lane should be and help you get towards that,” says Julie Morrison, co-owner of Phase 4, a record store and vintage shop that opened in July.
Nick Carter, co-founder of Stock & Supply, a concept store that started as a pop-up and launched its first bricks-and-mortar outlet in the laneway, also recognises their approach. “They’re the only guys doing what they’re doing with this kind of retail space; it’s been a massive game changer.”
Who's on the street?
- Stock & Supply
Independent multi-brand shop.
Shop 4; stockandsupply.com.au
- Bow & Arrow
Womenswear shop with another outpost in Noosa.
Shop 6; bowandarrowtrading.com
- The Botanist
Shop 3; thebotanist.net.au
- Model Citizen
Shop for Eeshaal Niranjan’s streetwear label
Shop 8; model-citizen.com.au
- I Heart Brownies
A café-cum-shop selling chocolate treats.
Shop 7; iheartbrownies.com.au