Port Places: year in review 2023
This year’s words of the year – ‘rizz’1 and ‘hallucinate’2 do not resonate here at Port Places. Instead, I have chosen the word ‘consequential’, a word I have heard more often in 2023. In this post, I have highlighted ‘consequential’ matters – those that will have an impact beyond this year.
Greystar’s Build to Rent project at 15 – 85 Gladstone St, South Melbourne is the most significant development under construction in Fishermans Bend at this time. This 700 unit development has been built within the building envelope of one of the first permits issued for Fishermans Bend back in September 2014. The development includes co-working spaces, gyms, pools, dog run, library and more. The original permit was for 1,023 apartments.
The long awaited Montague Precinct Implementation plan was released for consultation in November.
R Iconic’s distinctive profile has settled into the skyscape. A Coles local supermarket opened in the ground floor of the development on the 1st of November. Soon after the Coles business was sold for $17,500,000.4
Construction began on Gamuda’s Canopy at 272 – 280 Normanby Rd. It brings the park that is to be created out of the closure of Johnston St between Normanby Rd and Munro St one step closer.
On 18 December, the Port Phillip Council announced the purchase of the Australia Post site at 509 Williamstown Rd for $38.8m. The site is designated as open space in the Fishermans Bend Framework. The Council intends to create a new sport and recreation precinct on the site.
In Wirrarway, id Land’s ‘coastal community with an urban flair’ is under construction, as is the intense town house development on the former Rootes car factory’s site between Plummer and Smith Sts.
NEIC (National Employment and Innovation Cluster)
The Gateway to GMH, aka Turner St, was completed this year. It is now possible to ride off road from Southern Cross Station all the way to Salmon St.
Extensive remediation of the former GMH site has been underway all year. Some of the work involved the relocation of underground services, including power, a massive undertaking. The future alignment of Turner St is now clearly visible from Todd Rd where it will connect with the Wharf Rd and Todd Rd roundabout.
Work continues on preparing for University of Melbourne campus which is planned to open in 2026. Stage 1 of the campus will be a super hub for innovation purpose-built for the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology (FEIT) and the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning (ABP), with space for industry to co-locate.
Waterfront Place and Station Pier
Although a planning permit was issued by VCAT in December 2022 there has been no action on site.
103 Beach St (former Beacon Cove foodstore)
Construction began early in the New Year after VCAT issued a permit by in December 2022. Most of the year has been spent on the construction of a basement for carparking.
Cunard and Princess lines announced their intention to bypass Melbourne in future after Ports Victoria increased the fee per passenger by15%, from $28.50 to $32. The funds are to be directed towards the maintenance of Station Pier for which revenue was lost when TT Lines moved to Geelong. Virgin cruise line’s Resilient Lady will make Melbourne its home port for the cruise ship season.
Thirty shops are vacant out of 200. There are now four ‘smoke’ shops in Bay St.
The year was dominated by the crisis in housing affordability, as well as cost of living pressures and inflation.
The Barak Beacon housing estate was systematically demolished over the course of the year. The Building Communities Consortium was appointed to re-develop four public housing sites – in Port Melbourne (Barak Beacon), South Yarra, Hampton East and Prahran. 502 existing dwellings across the four sites will be replaced with a total of 1,370 new homes. Across the four sites there will be more than 650 new social housing homes, around 180 affordable homes, 500 market rental homes, and more than 50 Specialist Disability Accommodation homes.
145 houses were sold in Port Melbourne this year. The median price of a house in Port between December 2022 and November 2023 was $1,600,000, down -3.2%.
258 apartments were sold in Port Melbourne in the last twelve months. The median price was $715,000, down -4.7%.
Interest rates rose by a total of 1.25% per annum over the year. The Reserve Bank increased the cash rate by 0.25% per annum in February, March, May, June and November. The cash rate at today’s date is 4.35%, a 12-year high.
Transport and mobility
Bus services 235 and 237 to Fishermans Bend were boosted to an eight-minute frequency in the morning and afternoon peaks from 15 October. Services are now running until midnight on weekdays. Weekend frequencies were also increased. The state government’s Melbourne Tram Plan, released in August, does not include a tram to Fishermans Bend.
St Kilda Rd separated bike lanes have been embraced by people who ride bikes. Victorian Government data shows the volume of bike riders on St Kilda Road has increased threefold since the fully separated bike lane was installed,
In Port Phillip, moves towards protected bike lanes continue to be resisted.
There was a dramatic increase in electric vehicles sales in Australia this year. To the end of June 2023, 46,624 electric vehicles were sold, more than the entire total for 2022. EVs now represent 8.4% of all new cars sold in Australia.3
Plastic drinking straws, cutlery, plates, cotton bud sticks, polystyrene food and drink containers were banned on 1 February. A container deposit scheme started on 1 November.
Volunteers from 3207 Beach Patrol and its sister group, Love Our Streets 3207, gathered data on rubbish collected in Port Melbourne this year.
Note how many more containers were picked up in the street than on the beach.
|3207 Beach Patrol
|3207 Love our Streets
Nature and Biodiversity
Though August and September, the City of Port Phillip extended the Danks St biolink from Esplanade East through to Victoria Avenue. It now extends from Port Melbourne to Middle Park.
Emma Cutting, with support from the Port Melbourne Primary School community, laid the mulch foundation for a block length nature strip to add to the Melbourne Pollinator corridor. Emma intends to connect the Royal Botanic Gardens to Westgate Park, one street garden at a time.
On 8 December 2022, the City of Melbourne installed the first floating wetland off Yarra’s Edge. The wetlands are thriving in December 2023. They have provided nesting places for three families of swans in one season, as well as being a refuge for water birds including the Australasian Darter.
The Port and Shipping
The largest ship to visit the Port of Melbourne this year was the CMA CGM PELLEAS which docked at the Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT) on 22 September. At 350 meters in length, the container vessel is the largest ever to dock in Australia. The ship is nearly 43 meters wide and has a carrying capacity of just under 10,000 TEUs.
VICT extended its berth so that it can cater for such larger ships. It also took delivery of six automatic stacking cranes marking a significant increase in capacity at the Webb Dock terminal.
The hottest day in Melbourne in 2023 was 17 February when it reached 41.3 degrees. The coldest day was 16 August when it reached 0.5 in Melbourne.
The wettest day was 3.3 cm on 16 April. There has been a total of 37 cm rainfall to date.
Mean maximum temperatures were above average for all suburbs of Greater Melbourne, ranging from 0.1 °C above average at Melbourne (Olympic Park) to 1.5 °C above average at Laverton RAAF, Essendon Airport and Melbourne Airport.5
2023 is anticipated to the hottest year on record.6
Melbourne’s water storages are at 95%. Melbourne’s annual water use exceeds natural flows into storages by 50–70 billion litres. Over time this deficit will continue to grow.
AI moved from the margins to the centre of public interest and conversation with its implications for news media, national security, education, employment and writing birthday poems.
Symbol of the year
Frank Veldze’s Dream Home.
This sculpture in Footscray, located on a Reserve which functions as a traffic island, is made of of mattress springs. Frank Veldze worked at Ozanam House for homeless men. His experience informed this work. The house, the size of a miner’s cottage, offers no protection from the elements, no shelter from the storm. Traffic flows round the site all day and night. The sculpture has been there for a long time, and no one pays much attention to it anymore. It suggests to me the holes in our national approach to housing which has failed to ensure that everyone has access to safe, secure and affordable housing.
Sources and references
1 Oxford Dictionary
2 Cambridge Dictionary
3 Electric Vehicle Council
5 Greater Melbourne in Spring 2023 Bureau of Meteorology