Jaunting through Top Ryde City (NSW)

Recently, we visited Top Ryde City. I’ve been there before. In 2018, I watched four films at the centre, including Ant-Man 2. Top Ryde is much similar to Westfield Eastgardens; there are neither train nor metro stops nearby. West Ryde and Meadowbank stations are the closest, but you’ll still have to take the bus. While being more inaccessible, I have to admit that the complex isn’t particularly remarkable. While Eastgardens has a Myer and the three major discount department stores, Top Ryde houses TK Maxx, Kmart, and Big W instead. The current Top Ryde iteration is a fairly large indoor/outdoor mall, with 78,125 square metres of floor space. This is spread over six levels. This makes it almost on par with Eastgardens (82,687 m2) and over twice the size of nearby Rhodes Waterside (34,646 m2). The mall features twin travelators across the main section. This is peculiar, as other centres around Sydney use the latter as a means to the carpark, basement, or upper level. Aside from Broadway shopping centre in downtown Sydney, you rarely see the travelators dominating the floor area.

Beginnings

The original centre initially opened in 1957. The structure represented the first major open-air mall in the state. The Benjamin’s opened their dream complex after taking in twenty malls in the novel American style. Franklins, the AJ Benjamin Department Store and 400 other smaller retailers, anchored Top Ryde. In 1962, Lendlease took over and saw the arrival of Woolworths and Grace Bros. A ten-pin bowling alley entered in the seventies. In 1986, redevelopments led to the edifice having a new designation: Top Ryde Shopping Square. Grace Bros beget Venture beget Target. A mall reshuffle then transpired, with the food court being teleported and banking relegated to the south end.

Adversity

The growth of several malls within Top Ryde’s periphery spelled doom. Macquarie Centre (MC) opened in 1981, while Westfields in Parramatta and Hornsby kept growing. The institution of Rhodes Waterside in 2004 likewise had a significant impact on foot traffic at the old edifice. On its last legs, Top Ryde was essentially a dead mall with Woolies, Franklins, the bowling alley and ninety specialty shops – mostly banking and service stores. The structure had two floors, with Woolies and the food court on level one. Franklins was on the street level, with busing access. The bowling place and carpark were on the third level.  

Top Ryde City

The edifice was demolished in July 2007 and construction then commenced. The new centre was so named after a consensus by the local Ryde Council. Stage 1 opened in November 2009, with the introduction of Woolies, Big W, Dan Murphy’s, and JB Hi-Fi.  Stage 2 was completed and ready by March 2010. This featured Aldi, Rebel Sport, and sixty other shops. This was also our first glimpse of the fashion area (La Strada). Finally, Stage 3 saw the unveiling of Myer and more fashion outlets at La Strada. This occurred on 4 August 2010. The former Prime Minister Julia Gillard was on hand for the official opening on 20 August 2010. Event Cinemas and other council projects welcomed patrons in February 2011. The original Top Ryde went into receivership. The Hong Kong arm of American-based Blackstone Group purchased the complex in November of 2012.

Twenty-thirteen

My first visit was way back in 2013. I met a friend at the mall, and we saw Captain Phillips. From my first visit, I gathered that this wasn’t a very accessible centre. At that time, Myer was still operating but I inferred that business was bad. I remember my friend ordering this croissant and hot tea for the afternoon snack. We also had a look at Strandbags. We probably had lunch at the food court, but I couldn’t remember what I had. I recall him talking about adding more storage for his PlayStation. I asked a couple of cute lasses where the bus stop was going back. At the time, I couldn’t quite place their accents.

At the movies

The movies were the primary reason for all the other times that I dropped by Top Ryde. I have to admit that their cinemas are nice. This is due to two reasons. One, the cinemas had only been around for less than a decade when I visited. Two, hardly anyone rocks up for movies here. When I asked my ex-neighbour, he asserted that only Event Beverly Hills is doing worse. The centre does have a bevy of dining options, but the aforementioned other centres are much more budget friendly. With their stylish set-up, Top Ryde’s dining precinct gives off a posh vibe. We had a look at some of these spots, which were mostly overpriced. We settled for Mexican grub. While I was making my order, the checkout chick was clearly getting stressed. She was eyeing the growing line behind me.

The stroll

After lunch, we headed to TK Maxx. There was this jacket that was priced at $69.99, with only one size left. I guess the Calvin Klein chest logo was worth the damage. The bag section had some good artsy, monochromatic designs. After looking at their menswear, I had to admit that there wasn’t much. Strandbags was next; I looked through their leather wallets. We went to The Reject Shop and bought some foodstuff. We then visited Best and Less; they had cheap denim. However, the grey jeans were too faded for my liking. There was a water bottle that we considered, but I deduced correctly that the recipient wouldn’t like the design.

Final word

We went to Big W and bought this good-value sheet set. We ducked into Kmart, mainly to see how their own sheets stack up. We did a light shop at Coles, mostly bakery items. We capped off our day at the food court, where I bought some KFC and Asian takeaway to go. We caught a direct bus ride from the mall to the city. Funny enough, the trip took longer than a similar one from MC. There sure were more stops for this one. The departure of Myer left a hole in this centre, one that hasn’t been filled. In addition, the complex is currently on the market. When we took in the centre, there wasn’t much activity – even though it was the school holidays. As it currently stands, there isn’t much reason to swoon over this structure, especially since you’d have to change at least once to get there.

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