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St Kilda Triangle development - what was poposed

On 11 August 2008 the former Port Phillip Council approved the Triangle Development Plan.

Development Plan Part 1  (7.9mg)
Development Plan Part 2  (7.8mg)

It is a development that can be achieved only at great cost to future generations. Already it has unseated a Council that, in order to achieve its vision, trashed its planning guidelines, deeply compromised good governance and alienated its own citizens. The Council which approved this plan had become engulfed by a culture of secrecy and suspicion, and signed a secret Development Agreement with the developer and the State Government that has never been released in full to the public.

The Development Plan for the Triangle represents a vision that is outmoded and badly outdated. This plan is not about revitalising St Kilda, it is about condemning a unique part of Melbourne to a development model rooted in the 1970s.

Melbourne today must be about an emerging Age of Sustainability. But the Triangle plan is a dinosaur. It is a car dependent shopping complex, an alcohol dependent entertainment precinct, a huge development oblivious to climate change and its implications.

There has been no independent environmental assessment of the Triangle proposal. In a changing and vulnerable world this is a not just an oversight, it is a tragedy. We are getting development geared to short-term profit while the long-term consequences are ignored.

Here are the facts, as we understand them.
The deck chairs on the Development Plan have been rearranged many times yet one thing remains clear - the bulk has not reduced, the mix of uses remains the same, albeit in different proportions, and offices have been added to the mix.

Below is the last publicly available breakdown:

The BBC consortium's winning tender, selected by the previous City of Port Phillip Council for the St Kilda Triangle Crown land site, proposes to turn the public land into a shopping centre, cinema complex, nightclub precinct and visitor accommodation.

New buildings will cover the whole area between Jacka Boulevard and Upper Esplanade, blocking views to the beach from the Upper Esplanade footpaths and road. The higher buildings will block public views to the horizon and the Palais Theatre.

Spread over five levels on this beachfront public space, there will be:

  • over 23,000 sqm of shopping, which includes 20% national chains and 50% 'independents' (defined by the developer as a trader with less than 10 stores), as well as a 3,600 sqm supermarket.
  • a cluster of nightclubs for 3,000 patrons, a pub for 900 patrons plus further space for over 2,000 seats in licensed venues such as bars and restaurants (including a restaurant to train hospitality students)
  • a multi-screen cinema complex
  • a 70-room hotel and convention space
  • a fitness centre
  • the area allocated to house an art gallery and a cultural organisation of national significance is smaller than the pub, though the latter can be turned into restaurants, failing community interest.
  • offices
  • bowling alley and an indoor adventure playground
  • 1100 space car park
  • 5,000 sq m of public grass areas on the roof of the complex, sloping up from the Upper Esplanade
  • public walkways throughout
  • public steps leading to Jacka Boulevard and
  • a shop-fronted public plaza.

The design calls for the demolition of a unique, 100 year old, split-level beachside promenade and the sacrifice of some of the unobstructed public views from the Upper Esplanade footpaths to the beach and to the Palais Theatre and Luna Park.

The heritage Palais Theatre all but disappears with two massive buildings against its southern and western side, destroying its landmark status as a free-standing pavilion.

According to the financials presented to the City of Port Phillip during the tender process this $300 million* commercial development is the return needed by the developer to cover its outlays for the few non-commercial elements on the site:

  • $20 million to refurbish the Palais Theatre (a heritage listed public asset) and
  • $40 million for a new art gallery for the City of Port Phillip, a hospitality-training restaurant and replacement of the grass areas.

* $400 million claimed here.

We took another look at the Triangle. Below we untangle the spin

What is retail?

Retail sqm or Gross Lettable Area (GLA) is an industry measure of retail space, which is consistently defined by all centres to include a range of activities such as a variety of shops (including shops that provide services such banking, travel and postal, and shops that sell fresh food) as well as leisure, cinemas, restaurants and nightclubs.  It’s a package deal – just like the St Kilda Triangle!

So how big is the St Kilda Triangle development?

For the duration of its 99 year-lease, St Kilda Triangle Centre Management will control 43,700 retail sqm  plus outdoor seating areas and terraces used in conjunction with Function Centres, taverns and other food and drink premises.
The total sqm of these outdoor areas has not been specified; but we estimate it could be up to an additional 2,500 sqm.

Thus, in industry parlance, the retail sqm or Gross Lettable Sapce GLA of the St Kilda Triangle is closer to 47,300 sqm, making it bigger than mid range regional centres such as Altona Gate (28,652 sqm), Brimbak Central (39,505) and Westfield Geelong (35,866 sqm), for example and just a little smaller than Forest Hill Chase (62,881sqm).

For the Developer to use 19,000 sqm of a narrowly defined set of shops as the measure of retail sqm of St Kilda Triangle is a gross misrepresentation of the language of centre management.

It ain't no Chadstone
We concede that St Kilda Triangle is no Chadstone. Its formula mix of shopping and entertainment is straight out of Fountain Gate's promotion blurb.

"Covering two levels, Westfield Fountain Gate offers seven major stores, close to 300 specialty stores, two food courts and parking for more than 4,000 cars. It also incorporates an entertainment leisure precinct including a 10-screen Village Cinemas, restaurants and a nightclub" (http://westfield.com.au/corporate/property-portfolio/australia/fountaingate.html)

In terms of size, one could say the St Kilda Triangle is a mini-Fountain Gate. Chadstone used to have nightclubs, but when that formula didn't work the space was converted to more shops.

Have we had our fill?
John Fitzgerald, member of the advisory committee to the Victorian Alcohol Action Plan, pointed that "there is now credible national and international evidence that increasing the number of licensing outlets produces more alcohol-related harm", (Culture of intoxication, The Age, 9/9/08).

Yet, while still battling with alcohol fuelled violence in Fitzroy Street (already containing something like 10,000 sqm of licensed venues) and in neighbouring Acland Street, the previous Council encouraged an additional 10,500 sqm of licensed venues at nearby Triangle, that will combine a cluster of nightclubs and a pub alongside a bar and licensed restaurant precinct.

unChain St Kilda Inc, Incorporated Association No A0051216V