July 03 2013

Last Chance: The Free Rent Scheme Activating Melbourne’s Docklands

Vintage, grungy and gentrified are words that are often associated with Melbourne’s most trendy neighbourhoods. Inner urban suburbs such as Fitzroy and North Melbourne that are characterised by Victorian terrace housing, Miner’s cottages and brick veneer factory warehouses have played a significant part of Melbourne’s suburban gentrification over the last 10 years.  However, the case of the Docklands does not reflect the successful renewal of its surrounding suburbs. The area has been designed with a brash developer’s stroke that struggles to signify a charming throwback to the site’s industrious past as Melbourne’s biggest port as North Melbourne is able to transcend its blue collar charm.Docklands Esplanade boardwalk is the only green space available to local residents.

The Docklands represents the west of Melbourne’s CBD area that has generally been a dormant modern precinct since its redevelopment in the early 2000’s. Though geographically closer to the CBD than popular suburbs situated north and south of the CBD, the area’s initial hefty price tag’s and its subsequent high vacancy rates has led the government as well as developers to try and implement innovative engaging policies such as the free rent scheme that is being implemented for some of Dockland’s commercial sites.

Dockland's outdoor cafe seating areas are seldom occupied.

The opportunity to provide free rent has opened the entry level for ventures never experienced before in Docklands, as historically the area’s high rents have deterred particular businesses from investing in the area.

For an area to gentrify, it should have a sense of charm from its past that allures new demographics, the Docklands was a port that was infested with tales of thuggery that manifested within the asbestos laden sheds along the harbour, furthermore the space has almost totally been designed and influenced by developers, whereas the redevelopment of surrounding areas has been inspired by Melburnians who wish to preserve the social and engaging nature of their city.

What are other contemporary tenancy schemes that have been able to be employed to activate areas?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Steven Petsinis

Steven Petsinis is an Urban Planning graduate from Melbourne, Australia. He has been involved in Urban Research and Development projects in Medellin, Colombia and Saigon, Vietnam and is currently pursuing his masters in Melbourne, Australia. His main interests lie in land use and social planning, sustainability, as well as studies involving globalization and it's effect on third world communities. He has recently spent one year travelling throughout North and South America, as well as Europe, where he has gathered material and inspiration for his upcoming blogs for The Grid.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013 at 9:02 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Land Use, Social/Demographics, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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