THE FIVE DESIGN CONCEPTS
A Transition Exhibition on the 14th November was launched by Councillors Samantha McIntosh and Belinda Coats. The exhibition revealed the 5 Design concepts for Phase 3 of The Community Participatory Design Process that began one year ago.
While Save Civic Hall is pleased that the designs keep the external structure, in most of the designs the Lower Hall could become part of the library or partly demolished, and the stage, balcony and foyer are lost.
The only design that retains both halls is Concept “L”, however this design is seriously flawed as it retains it only for the limited use as a Performing Arts space, with raked seating, removing any usage for dances, exhibitions, trade shows, dinners etc. it’s original use – as a multi-function space – has gone.
All five designs include offices, shops and residential apartments. We must question some of the designs and ask … Is this what the community wants? Is it appropriate to have residential properties on a site that is used as a performing arts venue? This would surely impact on events when noise levels could be an issue, so why create the problem in the first place? Why is there so much office space earmarked for the site? Who is going to occupy the offices?…certainly there has been no commitment by government department, Vic Roads which was once thought to be a stakeholder .
STAGE 1 DEVELOPMENT- THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL
An estimate for stage 1 of the Development of the Main Hall is $10-12 Million, and this would take place before a final decision is made on the whole site.
A proposal will be put to Council by Here Studio to proceed with Stage 1 of the redevelopment of the Civic Hall site, and a planning permit will need to be prepared. This includes the main Hall, foyer, division of the balcony, west landscape, Civic Plaza and rearranged car parking.
Whilst we welcome The Civic Plaza and west landscape, concern mounts for the potential loss of it’s multi-purpose function in favour of raked seating that could become permanent. This would mean that the beautiful wooden flat floor would be lost, therefore there would no longer be a dance floor, restricting the type of events that could be staged in the main hall.
The stage and flytower is to be closed off with a new and smaller stage erected in front of the original stage. The wings either side would be lost so there would be no retreat or dressing rooms for performers.
The upper level Dress Circle would be divided into three small theatres and small viewing area, obstructing the view of the stage. It is proposed to use these for lectures, meeting rooms or art-house cinema which, incidentally, was not permitted in the past. The only films which could be shown in the hall were educational or documentary.
The existing foyer would be converted into a kitchen with a loss of the two snack bars just inside the main hall. A lift for disability access would be installed. A new, Art Deco inspired spiral staircase would also be installed. The foyer public space would be severely reduced.
There would also be a reduced overall seating capacity which would make it impossible to position it away from its major competitors. Save Civic Hall understands that the budgeted $8 million could have provided a basic paint and polish to get the hall event ready without unnecessary modifications.
THE 5 CONCEPTS ARE CURRENTLY ON SHOW AT THE LIBRARY
The 5 concepts are now on show at the Library. A report is expected to be presented to the Council Chambers at the Council meeting on the 9th December. Community members are encouraged to attend the meeting and share their thoughts on the “Civic Hall Site”.
The Civic Hall foyer will re-open soon and it is critical for residents to visit and give feedback on the 5 concepts. Please view the designs and ask questions. Save Civic Hall believes it is important that the Civic Hall is retained for community use as a multi-purpose venue with maximum capacity for generations to come.