Wednesday 15 March 2017

Getting The Right Perspective on Munro's/QVM Site

Yesterday's Herald Sun includes an article by Shaun Carney, an Adjunct Associate Professor in Politics at Monash University in which he expresses some views on the Munro site development.

Shaun Carney makes a mistake that many observers are making. The Munro development is not the Queen Vic Market. It happens to be adjacent to the market (and therefore has relevance) but essentially Munro's is adding a more appropriate surrounding to our market than currently exists. 

The proposed red brick construction of the podium, the lane ways, and the retail content are all more appropriate for that site. There are probably not too many people who are in love with high rise towers but they are a prerequisite for managing business and populations in CBD's, and this one, set in the back corner of a fairly large block, is probably as inconspicuous as any tower can be even allowing for the requested additional height. The CoM makes a good point when it says that a 100 metre monolith across the whole site would be far more unattractive than the proposed single corner tower.

The Queen Vic Market is low height, and as far as we know, will stay that way. While we pontificate on applying the same rules to a surrounding CBD we jeopardise fixing the "tatty" aspects of our market. Mr. Carney quite rightly calls our market "treasured", but the treasure is declining and needs our attention.

The Munro site has relevance for QVM in at least two key ways. Firstly, it is adjacent to us and needs to be an appropriate neighbour for a retail market. The red brick construction, the lane ways, and the purpose (accommodation, entertainment, retail, community services) are all relevant. Secondly, it is owned by the city and presumably inextricably connected with financing the market renewal itself.

There is a discussion going on in Baltimore at the moment about four public markets that are in need of renewal. Market renewals all around the world have their difference but there seem to be one standout aspect in US renewals and that is the American understanding of community responsibility. When renewals have business financing and community financing, all parties seem to take responsibility for making sure the figures stack up. Here we seem to say - "fix the problem but don't change these things, and by the way, financing is your problem." No wonder international market guru, David O'Neil, puts so much emphasis on community.

It is true that opponents to renewal have alternative options that include weather proofing, a platform car park over the current asphalt, and renewable energy (although that already exists).

As far as we can tell, the proposed QVM renewal won't change the market's historical appearance much at all. Whatever happens, financing will be needed. The eventual sale of the Franklin St triangle and the profit the city makes from Munro's will help provide that financing.

And while we are talking financing let's take a look at the QVM spend. Up to $250m is to be spent on the renewal. "Up to" is a key term, and $79m has already been spent on Munro's. There isn't a lot left. This week it was announced that $500m was to be spent renewing The Glen Shopping Centre out at suburban Glen Waverley. That might give some perspective to our own renewal. (Incidentally the plans at The Glen include an upgraded "Fresh food market hall", just in case we need to be reminded of our competitors addressing the need for change.)

Mr Carney admits that there are some obvious shortcomings that need correcting at QVM. He needs to talk to some of our struggling traders, and those who have recently left the market, to understand that actions of the past are unlikely to protect the future of traders at QVM. As measured as his article is, it smacks of leaving things as they are, and that is not the best option for QVM.

So, do we listen to those who want to leave things, or at best play around with the edges of our market, or do we accept the vision of city designers who have made Melbourne the world’s most liveable city. Every trader needs to make up their mind about that - and of course so does the State Planning Minister as he decides on the approval process.

By Greg Smith

Have Your Say - click here.

15/03/2017 19:42:40 accept the vision of city designers "If we leave things as they are its inevitable, the slow decline over the past 15 or so years will continue.
Lets embrace the change, and  be able to compete with the rest of the world." Andy
Thanks for your input Andy - Ed

20/03/2017 09:38:51 MUNRO SITE "It  doesnt matter how you ""dress up"" the surrounding
area of the MARKET....the real problem is the MARKET itself.
Who do we have in management to answer the REAL problems such as EMPTY SHEDS
& POOR STANDARD of Merchandise by CASUAL and LONG TIME stallholders?"
The surrounds to our market do matter but you are correct about the internal things that need fixing. Wouldn't it be great just to click our fingers and have it all done at once. Thanks for your input - Ed