The First Quarter 2021
Victoria plunged back into lockdown on 13 February for 5 days following a COVID outbreak known as ‘The Holiday Inn cluster’. On March 31st, 2020 there were 58 new cases of COVID-19. On March 31st, 2021 there were 0 active cases of locally acquired COVID.1 From the end of March last year we were being exhorted to stay at home whereas this year people are being coaxed back to work in the office. New ways of hybrid working are evolving as people mix work at home and in the office.
The development site at 2 – 28 Montague St opened as a drive through COVID testing centre while in late March, a vaccination hub opened at Port Melbourne Football Club. In this period, front line workers and those over 70 were eligible to be vaccinated. Concerns about the Astra Zenica vaccine’s association with blood clots emerged in February.
source https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/victorian-coronavirus-covid-19-data (accessed 22 April 2021)
40 storey Oakwood and The Normanby go head to head, opposite one another, toward completion. 272 – 280 Normanby Rd went through the Fishermans Bend Standing Advisory Committee and came out reduced from 40 to 24 storeys.
Construction of R. Iconic, a development of 456 apartments over 37 and 40 levels on the former Oxford University Press site is well underway. This development was approved prior to the adoption of the Fishermans Bend Framework. R.Iconic gives its location as ‘CBD South’. R. Iconic is responding to the changing needs around work, offering apartments designed for working from home, and shared spaces on site.
These are the developments that you can’t miss, but in Montague a different character is emerging.
18 level Montague Square, opposite the South Melbourne Primary School, is reaching completion. The Relief Unit, a coffee shop, has opened in the triangular small site at the base of Iurada’s building completed last year serving construction workers, teachers and students at the nearby Photography Studies College.
Just a few doors down in Thistlethwaite St, finishing touches are being applied to two eight level developments – Ruiyi’s 0South and Samma’s Lilix. The podium of Lilix is faced with recycled brick, a reference to Montague’s character. The two developments proceed at a similar pace which appears, at least to an observer, competitive like the towers on Normanby Rd.
It should be noted that not one of the developments referred to in this post uses the precinct names in marketing that were assigned to them when Fishermans Bend was first re-zoned in 2012. However, the character of the precincts is being influenced by the built form controls of the Fishermans Bend Framework – as well as those legacy permits issued before the Framework plan was put in place in October 2018.
Sandridge is the precinct in the Framework envisaged mainly for office accommodation. With the future of the office still settling, less is happening in this precinct.
MUSK’s Soap Factory is nearing completion – a genuine mixed use development with residential, commercial and retail. It also features the adaptive re-use of the former building. Uncle Rocco’s Barbershop is advertised to take up a lease on Ingles St shortly.
222 Ingles St, a strategic site on the corner of Ingles and Woodruff St remains stubbornly for sale.
The Fishermans Bend Framework says about the desired character of Wirraway:
‘A predominantly family-friendly inner city neighbourhood close to the bay and Westgate Park, Wirraway is a family-friendly neighbourhood. … Wirraway provides a choice of diverse housing, including townhouses and small to medium scale apartment buildings. .. Building heights step down towards Williamstown Road to respect Garden City’s low-scale built form.’
This character seems to be emerging with a range of town houses, or townhomes as they are referred to, either under construction or being marketed including The Evelyn and Port Lane (21 townhouses) on Williamstown Rd.
More people, and their dogs, are crossing Williamstown Rd from the completed P.M. Development on Plummer St to access the beach while some people cross the other way to try out new restaurant Elma on the ground flood or the building. An elderly resident of Garden City takes up an apartment there some 500m from where he has lived all his married life.
The heritage protected Rootes administration building withers with neglect while all energy is directed towards the townhouse development on the site of the former factory.
The long awaited, hard fought for, Docklands Primary School opened for Term 1.
The South Melbourne Primary School goes from strength to strength. The School’s facebook page portrays the energetic, inclusive life of the school.
Construction of the Fishermans Secondary School is well advanced to be ready for opening for Term 1, 2022. The school will have an enrolment capacity of 1,100 students. Albert Park College overflows into the vacant spaces of Port Melbourne in a campus style school in the community. School zones were recently updated which mean that students living west of Bay St, Port Melbourne must enrol at the new Fishermans Bend Secondary School, rather than Albert Park College in 2022.
Station Pier and Waterfront Place
It’s been subdued at Station Pier with only the comings and goings of the Spirit of Tasmania enlivening the place. The brief stay of the MV LIEKUT before entering service for SeaRoad revived the ‘Port’ in Port.
Meanwhile, planning inches forward on 1 – 7 Waterfront Place, the site of the former Beacon Cove gym and childcare centre. The new architects are Elenberg Fraser. Their plans are informed by the urban design guidelines for the site which require two, rather than one tower, to reduce the sense of bulk. The proponents are apparently revising their first plans in response to community feedback. The 10 level development will include 122 apartments and townhouses. The ground floor will include a gym, providore and a cafe.
The status of the former Beacon Cove Foodstore, 103 Beach St, remains unchanged. Plans are approved for 14 apartments.
The London, demolished in 2017 after a long planning battle, is taking shape after several months were spent on excavating and securing the basement. The very significant setback to avoid overshadowing and compromising the neighbours at the Anchorage is clearly visible in the photograph below.
Opening and closing
The Graham opened to a warm reception after a long renovation just before the February lockdown. The Golden Fleece, such an important anchor in Montague for the last several years, closed. Sam Austen gallantly fought the COVID ups and downs, re-inventing the pub as a pop up shop but the prolonged lockdown was too much to be borne.
The City of Port Phillip will continue the extensions to outdoor dining to the end of June. North Port closed their temporary pub in the park and returned to the comfort of indoors.
The ANZ Bank branch in Bay St closed at the end of March along with the ATM as COVID accelerated the move away from cash.
A new EV charging station with 22kW GET electric vehicle charges opened in Prohasky St in March, just near the P.M. development – close to the service station at the base of the Westgate Freeway recently contemplated for heritage listing by the City of Melbourne.
Waste & litter
Ross & Ramona Headifen concluded their 5 year plastic survey of a 55m section of a Port Melbourne beach tide line in March. Sufficient data has been collected over 5 years to provide a very accurate picture of the volume and nature of plastic landing up on our beaches.
Port of Melbourne
A new entity, Ports Victoria, will begin business in July 2021. Ports Victoria will merge Victorian Ports Corporation with the Victorian Regional Channels Authority (VRCA). Ports Victoria will be based in Geelong, as will the Spirit of Tasmania from 2022.
The Port of Melbourne presses ahead with various plans to get freight on rail including from Webb Dock.
The grounding of the Ever Given in the Suez Canal in March heightened awareness of our dependence on shipping, the risks associated with very large ships, and the plight of seafarers unable to return to shore because of COVID.
Imports grew in each month of the quarter from increased demand for household goods, toys and sporting goods. This resulted in a surplus of empty containers for export.
Property in Port
Apprehensions about the property market due to COVID 19 proved to be unfounded. In December 2020, the median price for a house in Port Melbourne was $1,630,500 and by the end of March it was $1,900,000 – an increase of 16%.
And last but not least – the weather
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