Anyone who has traversed the former Pentridge site in recent times can attest to how unsophisticated and unwelcoming the first tranche of apartment and townhouse projects are within the former prison's grounds. More than that it's the failure of these projects to adequately integrate with their surrounds that is perhaps most disappointing.
While developed only a few short years ago, they are almost symptomatic of a different time and/or attitude toward quality integrated development.
Yet there is hope that the vast majority of Pentridge can become a quality urban regeneration project that adequately addresses the needs of both residents and the general public. This is on the back of developer Shayher Group's recent announcement that they will facilitate the development of a large tract of land in the heart of their 6.7 hectare site for the purposes of a community piazza.
This exercise in placemaking by way of a sprawling piazza is on face value a leap in the right direction that will go a long way to promoting the site's strengths, while also providing the wider community with increased amenity, green spaces and services. It could be argued that this underpins the fundamentals of placemaking; that is the "creation of quality public spaces that contribute to people’s health, happiness, and well being."
Shayher Group's plan is to have markets, community events and performance spaces supporting laneway retail zones and a dining precinct within the walls of the old Pentridge. Integral to the piazza are landscaped gardens, with existing and new built form including a two-level boutique shopping precinct surrounding the piazza.
The developer will this month lodge four separate planning applications with either Moreland City Council or Heritage Victoria, with the expectation of beginning works during 2017. Shayher Group's placing of the spotlight on the communal aspects of the Pentridge development follows on from their announcement during August that TFE Hotels will operate an Adina Apartment Hotel onsite.
By signing on Adina to the new Cox Architecture-designed hotel (which includes B Division) and in adding a five screen cinema complex, a greater diversification of patrons/customers will be attracted to Pentridge.
We are excited to confirm open spaces, beautifully landscaped gardens and active retail offerings will characterise the piazza, bringing a sense of vibrancy and community to Pentridge, as well as offering a new space for locals to gather for events, picnics, markets and festivals.
The site’s centralised location makes it the perfect spot for an activated centre to complement the vibrancy of Coburg, providing the opportunity to introduce new integrated residential and food and retail offerings into the existing area.Anthony Goh, project spokesman, Shayher Group
Pentridge is unique in that it provides an opportunity to integrate heritage and new buildings across a massive site in a suburban location.
It's expected that 14 new buildings will be delivered across the site. Not only is it a chance to appropriately meld heritage aspects of Pentridge with new built form, but also an opportunity to brings existing heritage structures up to scratch via restoration. Perhaps though, the expectation that Pentridge can act as a catalyst and provide a positive outcome for the immediate community is the best outcome of all.