Developers could heal ‘great scar’ on Melbourne CBD

Developers could heal ‘great scar’ on Melbourne CBD

Hotels, apartment and office towers surrounded by open public spaces should be built over unsightly rail lines in the heart of Melbourne, according to the designer of Eureka Tower.

Fender Katsalidis Architects boss Karl Fender — whose firm is also behind iconic projects including the Richmond Silos and the soon-to-be-tallest building in the nation Australia 108 — branded the rail lines a “great scar” on the city.

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After decades of inaction, the space should be opened to developers with the funds to make something happen, he said.

“This great scar can actually become an additional open space type of community link between the north and south of the river,” Mr Fender said.

“We have talked about it for so long and if there was a way of unlocking it, you’d do it tomorrow.

“(But) these things don’t happen unless there’s ingenious or practical funding schemes, and obviously a partnership between the government and the development sector can enable that.”

The leading architect, who lives on level 71 of Eureka Tower, which looks out to the rail lines, argued Planning Minister Richard Wynne’s recent approval of the Flinders Bank development, to replace the Melbourne Convention Centre at the corner of Flinders and Spencer Sts, proved development was possible without compromising the Yarra River.

The tower will have a wedge-shaped top, with top-end apartments given extensive outdoor terraces, to mitigate overshadowing of the river.

Its combination of open public areas, luxury hotel rooms, affordable housing and retail space was a blueprint that could transform the rail lines.

“Flinders Bank is the first step in that direction,” Mr Fender said.

“This is the best of the city’s central real estate and it could make an enormous difference in this city.”

Lord Mayor Sally Capp agreed more needed to be done.

Melbourne City Council is working on plans to improve the area and to create 240,000sq m of open space across the city over the next 15 years.

“We are working to develop a vision for the north bank and we need to work closely with government agencies, land owners along the river and the private sector to maximise the open space potential,” Ms Capp said.

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