A vibrant waterfront activity area with ferries, cafes and entertainment spaces is the key to ensuring Docklands’ future viability and livability, city planners say.
Central to the precinct’s success is redeveloping Harbour Esplanade, which runs between Etihad Stadium and the waterfront. A master plan calls for a Circular Quay-style makeover to include a ferry terminal, restoration of heritage sheds on Central Pier, a water play area, an exhibition and events zone, bars, restaurants and cafes.
While some preliminary remedial work has been done, there is no timeline or funding for completion of the entire project by the City of Melbourne and the State Government.
Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said Harbour Esplanade should have been the first thing considered when Docklands construction started in 1997.
Cr Doyle envisaged an area buzzing with water taxis, a ferry terminal and an upstairs function room offering water views.
“There’s a range of complementary uses and buildings that are on Harbour Esplanade, not just this big wide expanse,” he said.
Heritage vessels such as the Alma Doeppel and the Enterprize would be moored beside the pier near La Trobe St, while the restored sheds would be a hive of activity.
City design director Professor Rob Adams said Docklands was joined to the CBD and the sooner “we drop the idea of Docklands being in any way different the better”.
“Harbour Esplanade is not just Docklands’ waterfront, it’s Melbourne’s waterfront,” he said.
The AFL has bought Etihad Stadium, and the council wants it to redesign the interface with the esplanade to make Docklands more accessible.
Prof Adams said a feature could be “Melbourne Circle” — a new public space that would turn the stadium’s concrete concourse into a circular promenade.
“At the moment, we just think of it as the way to get into the footy,” he said. “But we could treat it as a pedestrian street, we could pave it, put in trees.”
Another area vital for Docklands’ rejuvenation is Waterfront City, which hosts the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel.
Waterfront City owner AsheMorgan has installed a multi-million-dollar transparent steel and teflon canopy over the shopping centre. It will redevelop mall facades and create two major plazas to hold events.
Coming to the entertainment precinct is a state-of-the-art Hoyts cinema, surrounded by restaurants and leisure outlets, to complement the observation wheel and O’Brien Group Arena.
AsheMorgan principal Alton Abrahams said the real estate firm was investing significant money in Waterfront City. “We are delighted to see the vision for this unique shopping and entertainment precinct being brought to life,” he said.
Development of the entertainment precinct is due to start soon.
Via Future Melbourne – 8 Nov 2016