Does anyone doubt that Hopkins Street Precinct on the footstep on Footscray proper will be an unbridled success one day? I don't, but the total lack of action in materialising any of the many projects within the Urban Renewal Area is a concern and points to some fundamental issues within the precinct.
The impetus for this article is news this week the first major apartment project for the area (approved over three years ago) has been put on the market. Then design lead Architecton summed up both 10 Moreland Street and Joseph Road Precinct as follows:
The precinct has historically been used for a mix of industrial activities which are no longer viable or appropriate in this location. The precinct benefits from unrivalled proximity to both the Footscray CAD and the Maribyrnong River environs, and enjoys excellent multi-modal connections to other parts of Melbourne.
The strategic vision is for the area to be revitalised through new and innovative mixed use development. This proposal has received the first planning permit and hence the first step in the revitalisation of the Joseph Road precinct. It is therefore considered a catalyst for change which will assist in the implementation of the State and local government's broader vision for Footscray.Architecton: Moreland Street Footscray
Unfortunately there has been no catalyst for change within the 17 hectare precinct in recent years, and no prospect of there being so in the short to medium term. Fellow precinct permit holder 2 Hopkins Street is also currently for sale while 8 Hopkins Street and 18-24 Hopkins Street successfully found buyers earlier in the year, although there are no plans to immediately develop.
4 Neilson Place and 1 Warde Street are currently at planning with joint developer Urban Inc's Danny Ciarma indicating 1 Warde Street wasn't a priority development during an interview with Urban Melbourne during mid 2014. Whether at planning or approved, Joseph Street Precinct currently has approximately 3150 in just six projects listed on Urban Melbourne's Project Database.
At this point Joseph Street Precinct reminds me of an old adage, "All dressed up with nowhere to go."
From a laypersons perspective, these are the issues Joseph Street Precinct currently face:
Forget Docklands as an example, in this instance, Dandenong's urban renewal program may just provide the blueprint to lift Joseph Street Precinct out of the development doldrums. Revitalising Central Dandenong is an ongoing urban renewal project delivered by the State government via Places Victoria, in conjunction with the City of Greater Dandenong.
Critical infrastructure and extensive civic works continue to be delivered to Dandenong's CBD in order to stimulate private investment in the area - a ploy which to date has worked - with increased commercial and residential development the result. A similar program is precisely what Joseph Street Precinct requires in my view.
Joseph Street Precinct absolutely needs an initial infrastructure boost from the State government in order to promote the area as more than a current industrial wasteland. Implementing a road network and delivering some much needed civic works, particularly to Maribyrnong River, may just be the key to unlocking a flow of development that would begin the long sought transformation of the precinct.
Whether it be Places Victoria, City of Maribyrnong or both, Joseph Street Precinct is in desperate need of impetus by way of initial public works investment. To do nothing is to condemn the precinct to further dormancy.
So close to the CBD, yet so far from being reality!