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Yarra River Business Association

09 Jun 2020

Support your locals

By John Forman - President

As I write this column we are slowly re-emerging from lockdown. If you think it has been a long 10 weeks, then spare a thought for our hundreds of businesses that had their income cease overnight.

For some of them, it could potentially ruin their businesses. Even for the next six to 12 months, until we get the return of international tourism, business conditions for many in Southbank may be marginal.

This is where you, as Southbankers, can really play your part. It was vital that we had the restrictions, but I now urge you to get out and support the precinct’s cafes, bars and restaurants. Collectively, they are our lifeblood and create the colourful vibe of the area, which makes it is such a great location in which to live. More than ever before, they will need local support to open their doors and to keep them open.

I have also urged our businesses to actively reach out to the local community and perhaps really engage with them for the first time. Southbankers should be a constant and repeat source of business for them, but only if they look after you. Now is the time to really cement that link between our precinct businesses and residents. Basically, that means providing great customer service, but may also include special offers and perhaps special events.

Ironically, in this time of lockdown and slow re-emergence, confidence in the future of the precinct has never been stronger. The recent announcement by ARA Australia regarding the redevelopment of Southgate is the latest in a long list of new developments in the pipeline. Beulah International’s development for the BMW site has gained both local council and Spring Street approval.

This will not just be the biggest building in Melbourne, but I hope it will usher in a new era of sustainability and green credentials for high-rise buildings, not to mention community connections. The revised plans for the former convention centre site at the corner of Spencer and Flinders streets will radically change the look of that area behind Crowne Plaza. The Seafarers North Wharf development by Riverlee will also be an exciting “book-end” for the lower Yarra, plus a fitting development to sit opposite South Wharf.

They say that the world will not be the same again, but I am sure that the resilience of Southbank will see it re-emerge as strong as ever. There will be some casualties and many businesses will do things a bit differently, but the precinct’s combination of local, greater Melbourne, Victorian and interstate patronage, and eventually international tourism again, will underpin its recovery and see it reclaim its place as the vibrant hub of dining and tourism in Melbourne.

We hope that you have enjoyed the series of local walks that we have featured in this paper over the past three months. Although June is the final walk, we hope that you will always be inspired to get out and explore our local area. All the walks are included in a pocket-size publication Melbourne City River Walks, which is free and available from the Town Hall Visitor Hub, or just drop an email with your address to exoff@yarrariver.melbourne and we’ll post a copy out to you •

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