The City of Melbourne (via the Future Melbourne Committee) approved the construction of a 3.1-hectare mixed-use waterfront project. The project is divided into 4 stages — the first stage is set for completion by 2023, with full completion by 2026. If successful, the new waterfront can revitalize the areas along the Maribyrnong River and the western suburbs.
New Businesses and Residents
The $600 million West Melbourne Waterfront project encompasses a residential area comprising 600 dwellings, a boutique hotel for tourists and visitors, a retail center, and an 11,800 square meter outdoor recreation space. The project also includes various footpaths, bike lanes that span the project, and a green lane-way connecting the river and South Kensington Station. Project managers expect the new dwellings to bring in more than 1,000 residents — while the commercial establishments should provide jobs for 900 workers. Construction starts at the beginning of 2021 — providing more than 500 workers with employment opportunities for the next 5 years. 7 major buildings (together with supporting infrastructure) will be built and residents and businesses can start coming in by 2023.
The waterfront is located 3.5 kilometers from the Central Business District (CBD). Residents can access a multitude of rail infrastructure in the vicinity — with the South Kensington train station less than 500 meters away. Commuters can also access CityLink through Dynon Road, providing access to the whole of Melbourne. While the location might seem ideal for a residential space, critics — including the Environmental Planning Authority (EPA) and local businesses — are concerned that the waterfront could encourage more residential development in the previously industrial zone.
Although the waterfront was marked for development and rezoning by Plan Melbourne’s urban renewal initiative, nearby areas are still largely industrial. The EPA also warned that residents could be exposed to pollutants, odors, and noise from nearby industries — which includes two seafood processing facilities, a recycling center, and a concrete/batch plant. The nearby industries expressed concern that future residents might complain about their operations — stating that some of them begin their day at 4:30 am and continue until late at night.
Weal or Woe?
If the waterfront undertaking proves successful, it could raise property values (whether house and land packages or vacant land) throughout West Melbourne. Additional businesses would translate to city income and the waterfront would also serve as an employment hub for close to a thousand workers. It would also serve as proof of whether the city’s urban renewal initiative is effective or even tenable.
While the city has high hopes for the project, failure could set back Plan Melbourne and rethink the city’s future plans. However, experts believe the potential for the waterfront project is high and that Melbourne would be reaping great rewards once the project is finished.
The new waterfront project is a grand undertaking and it would be the benchmark for Melbourne’s urban renewal initiative. The new residential and commercial zone could turn out to be a huge success — potentially infusing new vitality to West Melbourne and the city as a whole. Residents can expect more projects that could improve their quality of life.