Darling Street, Rozelle was opened for the first time in almost two weeks on Tuesday, September 16 at 3pm.
An explosion in the early hours of Thursday, September 4 left the majority of the Rozelle shopping strip closed to traffic and pedestrians. Emergency services immediately began to clear the rubble left by the explosion and investigate the crime scene.
The explosion, believed to have originated in a convenience store on Darling Street, killed three residents. Police are treating the explosion as suspicious.
A series of safety concerns, including the compromised structural integrity of buildings affected by the explosion, resulted in the ongoing closure of the street.
“Safety remains our priority; however, we understand the importance of reopening the area for the benefit of businesses and the local community,” said Leichhardt Local Emergency Operations Controller Inspector Gary Coffey.
Surrounding local businesses have been badly affected by the fire. Many local businesses have been closed for almost two weeks.
Piccolo Padre’s, a popular cafe on the neighbouring block to the site of the fire, was forced to close for six business days.
Manager Alexander told City Hub it has been difficult time for the business.
“It has been very hard. Businesses like ours rely on people walking through the door, so this has hit us hard. But we will be alright,” he said.
Alexander said the cafe was forced to get rid of a large amount of food that could not be sold, but that they choose to donate the food to those in need so it would not go to waste.
Alexander said the sense of community among local businesses has been very strong in the past two weeks. Some businesses, such as Corner Bar, have offered shifts to employees who were unable to work due to closures.
“The sense of community here has been amazing. Even though we are competitors, we have banded together these few weeks to get through it. We’ve become best friends. It’s been amazing.”
Staff members at Piccolo Padre were among those who were offered shifts at other businesses that were able to remain open.
Eight businesses in total remain closed as this article goes to print.
Leichhardt Mayor Darcy Byrne has estimated the businesses have lost over $1.5 million in profit in the time they have been unable to trade. An additional $250,000 is estimated to be lost every day the street is closed. There are approximately 400 local jobs being affected.
“The longer that shops aren’t able to trade, the more long-term damage is being done to our local businesses,” Mayor Byrne said.
Mayor Byrne also said the sense of community among Rozelle residents and business owners since the tragedy has been very strong.
“The sense of solidarity between residents and business owners has been quite moving. Small business owners have been willing to support each other and those who’s premises have remained open have made space for the stock of the businesses that are closed,” he said.
“There is a real motivation amongst residents to ensure that we do absolutely everything in our power to help these businesses recover.”
Although most of Darling Street has been reopened and is now operating as normal, the site of the explosion is still being treated as a crime scene and is therefore still off limits to the public.