Fox’s classic car collection moved out

By Sean Car

Trucking giant Lindsay Fox’s classic car collection in the historic Queen’s Warehouse has been stored away for up to four years and the building left vacant, while remediation of the adjacent site takes place.

The Fox Classic Car Collection, which is run by a special trust, has been showcased in the heritage-listed warehouse on the corner of Collins St and Batman’s Hill Drive since 1996. The trust pays just $1 a year in rent for the building and surrounding land, under a special 99-year lease granted by former Prime Minister Paul Keating and then-Premier Jeff Kennett in 1995.

The lease was issued on the condition that the land be used for the purposes of establishing a public car museum and promoting uses consistent with those purposes. The Kangan Institute has run an automotive TAFE next to Queen’s Warehouse since 1996, which was provided by the trust for a peppercorn sum.

Fox’s collection, which is understood to comprise around 50 cars valued between $30 to $40 million, was moved out earlier this year. The trust’s chairman Bill Kelty told Docklands News that it was now proceeding with historic plans to develop the empty adjacent site.

The new development has long been understood to house stage three of Kangan’s Docklands campus, as well as an expanded car museum managed by the trust. Other automotive stakeholders such as Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) and the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) are understood to have expressed interest in the past.

However, Mr Kelty told Docklands News that no partners or building plans could be confirmed until remediation of the site took place. A spokesperson for Kangan Institute also said that the education provider had no confirmed plans regarding stage three.

The plans would also see a new piazza constructed on the existing car park next to the warehouse.

Mr Kelty said that the cars had been relocated to preserve their value while remediation and building took place.

“It [remediation] is due [to start] either later this year or, at the worst, it starts early next year,” Mr Kelty said. “It’s not just four years of remediation it’s four years of remediation and building.”

However, while no development plans have been formalised or submitted for the site, Mr Kelty reaffirmed this could only be done after the site had been fully remediated. Docklands News asked whether the vacant government-owned building could be offered to the likes of the City of Melbourne in the interim, to which Mr Kelty replied:

“It would be open to any reasonable proposition but that’s a distraction. The purpose is to get the piazza done and get the new complimentary building built.”

“We have spoken to Kangan and a number of other parties but because of the delay with the remediation it’s been difficult to get a finalised commercial agreement.”

The Fox Classic Car Collection has come under scrutiny in the past for its limited opening hours, which have ranged from one to three days per week since it was established. However, Mr Kelty told Docklands News that the reimagined museum would be “world-class”, fully opened six days a week and house an expanded collection of more than 100 classic cars.

“This will be one of the finest collections of classic cars in the world in, probably, one of the best sites in the world for a car museum. There won’t be a better site than this in the world” Mr Kelty said.

“To get a car into the Queen’s Warehouse for show is going to have to be a very, very special car so we’re going to really focus on really special classic cars and rotate them more and extend it beyond Lindsay’s collection.”

“We’ve been around and around in circles and this is the 15th lap around the course and so the task is to stop all the nonsense and get the remediation done and then we will come back with a plan.”

A spokesperson for Development Victoria said that it was in regular contact with the Fox Family Trust regarding opportunities for the precinct.

“Development Victoria would like to see the vacant site next to the heritage-listed Queen’s Warehouse Building developed in a manner that supports the urban renewal objectives for both the precinct and Docklands,” a spokesperson said.

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