Council invests in our waterways

Council has purchased the former Fix nightclub at NewQuay piazza for $1.95 million and will convert it into a marina lounge and waterways office.

According to waterways manager Doug Jarvis, the new lounge could be exactly what’s needed to create a social landscape around the waterfront and attract more boats to the harbour.

Mr Jarvis said Melbourne City Marina’s main competition were yacht clubs that offered more than just comfort, but also provide a place were people could spend time with friends and meet like-minded people.

“We figured that was what we needed. We needed to create a club-like environment,” Mr Jarvis said.

According to Mr Jarvis, the marina lounge needed to provide a quality customer service facility, have inter-seasonal use, create a hub of activity on the waterfront and be a drawcard for the Docklands community.

Councillor Kevin Louey said Docklands was continuing to evolve.

“It was important for the city to be active in the precinct as there is an expectation that our waterways will be utilised more and more once visitors to the area see the ease of access to Docklands via the river or the bay,” Cr Louey said.

Mr Jarvis said 80 per cent of the marina’s current market was made up of Melburnians.

“To get them to come out of the Williamstown Yacht Club, Sandringham Yacht Club or St Kilda Yacht Club you need something extremely attractive,” Mr Jarvis said.

Exactly what the site will look like is yet to be confirmed, with designs for the lounge currently at a conceptual stage and yet to be costed or budgeted by council.

But Mr Jarvis said the waterways team had envisioned a sitting area with a fireplace overlooking the harbour, a large kitchenette, a recreation area and a boardroom.

He said the main feature of the new lounge would be a large deck looking over the entire harbour, providing visitors with a visual connection to the boats and the water.

The harbour views provided by the new marina lounge will contrast strongly with the existing lounge, which has a limited view of the water and looks across the empty piazza.

“We think this is really going to change our marina,” Mr Jarvis said.

“Our job is to activate the water and the bigger picture is 365 day movement on the water.”

“If we can create the movement on the water then we can create that liveability, that humanisation part of it.”

Mr Jarvis said the marina lounge would also work in harmony with the community boating hub planned for the opposite side of the harbour.

“Hopefully, if our ambitious plans work, there will be sailing in the harbour all of the time and we’ll see people who have introduced their kids to sailing bring their bigger boats up, sit in the comfortable lounge, look over the harbour and watch their kids sail,” Mr Jarvis said.

Mr Jarvis said the new lounge could potentially be the key to lifting occupancy and activity on the waterways.

“We’ve very proud of the fact that we grew the occupancy 11.9 per cent over summer last year against a lot of trends going in the opposite direction,” Mr Jarvis said.

He said the goal was to continue building the occupancy and to get it up to 33 per cent.

“If there was one bullet to get that occupancy to lift significantly it’s this office and lounge,” Mr Jarvis said.

Refurbishment work is expected to start following the council’s next budget, with the new lounge and waterways office hoped to open by December 2014.

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