Unchain St Kilda – the community group that failed to stop the 2007 proposal dubbed by critics as Chadstone Shopping Centre by the Sea was also represented at the forum.
Various new ideas discussed for the site include sinking car parking underground, creating a new public square and re-engineering Jacka Boulevard, which was described as “a physical barrier for everyone”. The poor connection between The Esplanade and foreshore was also discussed.
Building new entertainment structures or a new arts-based community were also brainstormed, as was a “heritage-themed” option that would aim to retain the Palais as the dominant building in the area.
Council said engaging the theatre with the Triangle site is a priority. In late 2010 the state government announced a $2.5 million restoration of the Palais. Council also said climate change impacts would be factored highly in any design outcomes for the site bound by Jacka Boulevard, The Esplanade and Cavell Avenue.
The St Kilda Triangle redevelopment was one of Melbourne’s highest profile disputes eventually costing many councilors their former seats, amongst them Janet Cribbes, a former Mayor, and Dick Gross, who was president of the Municipal Association of Victoria.
A consortium led by Sydney-based Citta Property Group was awarded the tender to build a mixed use commercial village in mid-2007, but various factors surrounding the economic downturn meant construction didn’t start before the next council elections.
Incoming councilors scuttled the project in December 2009 paying $5 million compensation to Citta which reportedly invested $12 million on its scheme.
An Ombudsman report regarding the contentious 2007 approval, released in June 2010 found the former council kept poor record, and did not identify conflicts of interests. The report questioned whether the former council had the expertise to manage the tender process.