Last month marked a milestone for us here at Croomo and Clui. After nearly eight years, we packed up our offices at 14 Argyle St. and moved into our new digs — the urban precinct based in the historic TC Beirne (TCB) and Burlington Buildings in Fortitude Valley.
To walk around and see its exposed brick walls and rafters is to feel a tangible connection to Brisbane’s pioneering history. If they could tell a story, it would be one of entrepreneurship, innovation, and disruption. In the coming weeks, months, and years, we’ll make this place a home and get to making some history of our own — but in the meantime, this space has plenty to share.
The TC Beirne Department Store was designed by Robin Dods and built in 1902. Thomas Charles Beirne was a man with a great vision — a vision of a towering memorial of concrete and steel, teeming with people. It would sell people a ‘pleasanter way of living’ at an affordable price. His motto was “Give them better value and they’ll come back again and again.” He was spot-on. Thomas’s determination to put his unique stamp on the retail industry saw his department store thrive and, along with McWhirters, helped establish Fortitude Valley as the largest shopping precinct outside of a CBD in Australia. The desire to innovate built this structure and, 115 years later, saved it.
Photo credit: T C Beirne building, Fortitude Valley, 1947. Brisbane Images, Brisbane City Council
Jump forward to 2015, and these buildings have seen over a century of facelifts and remodeling — some necessary, some unfortunate (what happened in the 90’s, stays in the 90’s). The Queensland Government announces an initiative to empower Brisbane start-ups and entrepreneurs to grow and thrive, by converting the historic TC Beirne and Burlington Buildings into an energetic, collaborative urban precinct.
The precinct will bring start-ups, mentors, incubators, and investors together to create a melting pot of entrepreneurial activity.
Along with this, an exciting urban precinct is announced to open on the ground floor, which will merge the best in food, beverage, and retail that Brisbane has to offer. To put it simply, it’s a big deal for Fortitude Valley, which, in recent years, has become a hive of start-up activity (with Uber, River City Labs, Tappr, and Orange Digital setting up shop). It’s no surprise that the Queensland Government is propping Fortitude Valley up as Brisbane’s answer to Silicon Valley, and just as it was with the retail boom, it will once again be synonymous with industry, opportunity, and promise.
So, here we are. It’s August 2017, and we’re settling into our new office. We’ve started making this space our own, and I can’t help but feel as though this place is a perfect fit. Like Thomas Charles Beirne, we’re hungry to put our stamp on an industry. We have a strong vision, and a well of determination. Our offices were built on the promise of innovation and vision over a century ago and, in 2017, innovation has come home.