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Yarra River Business Association

07 Nov 2018

Yarra River Business Association Image

Reflecting on the past 20 years

This month marks our 20th year of existence and, needless to say, it is a vastly different business and tourism precinct these days than it was in 1998.

The association’s big challenge for its first 10 years was to create a physical and psychological sense of integration for Southbank and Northbank. Those who did visit back in the late 1990s, usually did so only to visit specific venues, primarily Crown, Southgate and the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

There were still plenty of vacant lots, disused buildings and a cleanliness problem. In fact, when talking to a long-time staff member of the Photography Studies College in City Rd the other day, she mentioned that her only option for lunch 20 years ago was one greasy spoon cafe.

Our Trip Advisor feedback for Southbank and South Wharf is always very high, whether it be from Melburnians or from those from the other side of the globe. It seems that we have managed to strike just the right balance between public and private.

If you ever look at your feet on Southbank Promenade you might have noticed that the flagstones are worn. In fact, a lot of the 20-25 year old public infrastructure is showing real signs of heavy use, so we’re working closely with the City of Melbourne’s urban design team to upgrade the amenity of the public space.

Our pride and joy at the moment is the new boat berthing infrastructure at Southgate. After a decade of lobbying, we finally have a place for our boat operators that not only looks good, but is safe and comfortable for the tens of thousands of passengers who enjoy the waterway each year.

Other projects like the new Riverside Quay Park and the Mirvac laneways project are the icing on the precinct cake and, of course, we wait with great anticipation for details about the Sturt St arts plaza concept and the

City Rd upgrade.

Over the next few years we must turn our attention with the council and other stakeholders to improve the north bank. Projects that immediately spring to mind are the redevelopment of Banana Alley to make proper use of that heritage building and its prime riverside location.

The failure of the small spaces of Rebecca Walk also provides a great opportunity to enliven Batman Park, perhaps using the sheds for low-rent artist studios.

In the short term, we are still lobbying the state government to ensure that the upgrade of Flinders Street Station also addresses the deplorable state of the Elizabeth/ Flinders St underpass to the river.

There are still many ideas for the precinct to keep it at the top of Melbourne’s most visited tourist destinations.

No doubt our guest speaker at the November 15 Yarra River business lunch, Cr Sally Capp, will be adding her own to our “to do” list.

Please feel free to come along to the lunch. It’s not just for businesses and we always welcome residents to the table. Head to www.yarrariver.melbourne/lunch to book.

John Forman - President

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