‘The Bermuda Triangle of ideas’: Costings missing from new St Kilda Triangle plan

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Key points

  • The Port Phillip council has revealed plans for a 5,000 person live music venue on the St Kilda Triangle site. 
  • The council’s plan is for the live music venue to have a flat floor to “maximise dancing” along with a series of elevated terraces, balconies and rooftops in a design which protects existing views and sightlines. 
  • A feasibility study on the venue will go before council on Wednesday night however the study does not include any costings. 

A new plan to build a live music venue for 5000 people on a contested parcel of land on St Kilda’s beachfront has no costings attached – and the local council needs the state government to help pay for it.

The St Kilda Triangle site – a car park next to Luna Park and the Palais Theatre – has been the subject of heated debate for decades, with millions of dollars already spent.

Development of the St Kilda Triangle has been up for debate for years.

A new feasibility study commissioned by Port Phillip council describes it a “once in a generation opportunity” for development.

The council’s plan is for the venue to have a flat floor to “maximise dancing” along with a series of elevated terraces, balconies and rooftops – a design that protects existing views and sight lines.

It will not reveal what the venue might cost and has no budget to build it, with the feasibility study noting that the council will “rely heavily on strong engagement and buy-in from the state government”.

Port Phillip’s plan is to write a letter to Premier Daniel Andrews “outlining the proposal, the benefits and the request for a state government partnership and support”.

An artist’s render of the proposed development on the St Kilda Triangle site. Credit: City of Port Phillip

A government spokesman said it would consider the proposal once it had been received.

Port Phillip Mayor Heather Cunsolo said developing the St Kilda Triangle site was a big, complex project and the council needed the time to get it right.

“We are working on identifying a realistic development cost, but this work is in the early stages and ultimately the cost would depend on many factors including feedback from our community and potential partners,” she said.

Trevor White, member of Port Phillip resident’s group Unchain, said the council did not have the money to pull it off.

“There is no understanding of the financial plan and how it is going to be financed, that is usually pretty important,” he said.

White said any development would also have to address contaminated soil on the site, which used to be a swamp.

“Who knows how much this is going to cost?” he said.

“I can’t see the state government funding this as opposed to fixing up the hospitals or ambulance ramping. If there is no money there, this thing is either doomed to failure or just keeping us busy saying, ‘Don’t look over here’ at the other problems the council has.”

Music promoters Live Nation, TEG Dainty, Destroy All Lines and Hardware Group participated in the feasibility study.

White said he was worried that Live Nation may be involved in developing the site. The company is behind a Victorian government plan to construct a new venue in Melbourne’s CBD.

“The worst example will be if a promoter gets the right to develop the site and operate it, as they will only lock in their own bands,” White said.

A spokeswoman for Live Nation declined to comment on whether the promoter was looking at developing the venue or funding it.

“Live Nation has a successful track record in revitalising heritage entertainment venues such as the Palais Theatre in St Kilda, Festival Hall in Melbourne and Anita’s Theatre in Thirroul (NSW) as well as investing in new live music venues in the heart of bustling precincts such as Hindley Street and the Fortitude Valley in Adelaide and Brisbane respectively,” she said.

In the feasibility study, the music promotors identified a venue for 5000 as the sweet spot missing from Melbourne’s music scene.

The study noted promoters’ fears that the music scene in St Kilda had dissipated and that it was “the wrong side of the river for a younger demographic”.

David Blakely, head of the Fitzroy Street Business Association, said the planned venue could be a game changer for St Kilda.

One of the previous designs for the St Kilda Triangle.

“The site is the Bermuda Triangle of where good ideas go to disappear,” he said.

“What is exciting this time is they have done the feasibility study first, plus it is not as grandiose as the previous proposals, including the initial one which we nicknamed ‘Chadstone by the Sea’, plus it is achievable.”

A report in 2015 revealed the council had spent $8.7 million on the St Kilda Triangle site since 2004 including $5 million going to a developer to walk away from plans and $1 million on legal costs.

The latest feasibility report has cost council $430,000 and recommends spending another $80,000 for “additional scope items”.

Jenni Roper at the St Kilda Triangle site. She wants live music in th area to come back with a vengeance.Credit: Penny Stephens

Local resident Jenni Roper said she was relieved to see some action on the site.

“I hope it gets through, it has just taken so long,” she said. “It’s a good thing with St Kilda moving forward and we need to move forward. I want the live music to come back with a vengeance.”

Andrew Ryan, owner of nearby live music venue The Prince, also backed the planned music venue at the Triangle site, which he said was “an eyesore”.

“It will bring more people to the area and there are ancillary shows that might work for us like secret shows or VIP shows that will be good for The Prince and Espy,” he said. “It will hopefully bring more people to the pub and to stay in the hotel.”

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