New 3500-capacity live music venue in Docklands rouses community concern
A new pop-up live music venue that could be built in Docklands under a state government-backed proposal has sparked community concern over its capacity to host 3500 people.
The new venue – which Docklands News understands could be built at a vacant space next to the Costco supermarket on Footscray Rd – is part of an initiative to attract more people to the CBD and surrounding area.
Minister for Industry Support and Recovery Ben Carroll announced in November that the government would spend $5 million to create a “pop-up live performance venue which will attract new audiences and activate underused parts of the CBD”.
A Victorian Government spokesperson said the location of the venue, as well as its size and capacity had yet to be determined.
However, according to The Age, which had obtained cabinet documents, the proposed venue was being pushed by Live Nation, a US-based live music company, with a space being sought in Docklands to “fill a known gap in the Melbourne event and performance landscape” and host more than 100 shows a year with the capacity to hold crowds of up to 3500 people.
The Age also reported that the proposal had the support of Development Victoria, with Live Nation costing the venue at about $20 million – of which it hoped the government would contribute $5 million.
Documents stated the venture “may need to be market-tested for value, as other players in the industry may also wish to be considered in achieving these outcomes,” according to The Age.
Docklands News sent multiple questions to the state government about the proposed venue including the preferred location, however in a statement it said, “the venue would be located in an under-utilised part of the city – the venue’s location, size and capacity are to be determined”.
“The government received a number of confidential proposals about temporary performance venues in Melbourne’s CBD,” it said.
“As is the case with projects of this nature, due diligence and assessment processes will be conducted in accordance with established probity guidelines.”
The government also referred to a $200 million Melbourne City Revitalisation Fund and $100 million Melbourne City Recovery Fund, a government partnership with the City of Melbourne, which was “supporting festivals, events, public infrastructure works and upgrades to bring people into the city”.
The proposed venue comes as the recent launch of Melbourne’s first ever floating nightclub, ATET, caused a fierce community backlash after its throbbing beats were played until 1am.
A Docklands Representative Group spokesperson said the announcement of a new music venue “raises more questions than it answers – and to date, we are unaware of any local consultations”.
“The first issue is what the government deems to be ‘underused space’, most especially in high-density residential areas, as the ATET debacle has shown,” the spokesperson said.
“Whether these proposals ultimately benefit Docklands both residents and local businesses – will be entirely dependent on good design.”
“This includes a focus upon acoustics, location (for transport and ease of access and egress) and finally, how they will be managed. But we can’t emphasise enough – talk to locals before proceeding down either of these paths”.
The Docklands Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer Shane Wylie said he had recently learned of a “large-scale festival and live music site” to be created in Docklands but did not have any further details about the proposal.
Mr Wylie said while Docklands was “certainly an example of an area that craves activation”, it was a mixed-use precinct which meant “that business, activations, and residents all need to co-exist”.
“We look forward to seeing the mix that the state government proposes moving forward and how this reflects on plans for the Central Pier evolution,” he said.
Lisa, a Docklands resident, said she was still experiencing noise issues from ATET, and worried that a bigger venue might be the breaking point for the community.
“ATET was the taster … I don’t think you’re going to get the community on side with this one, they’re going to be very scared I think,” she said, adding community consultation was critical if the proposed music venue went ahead.
Lisa, who asked not to use her surname, said family-oriented events like the Firelight Festival were better options than music venues to “bring the tourist dollar back to Docklands like it used to be”.
“We know when we put events on in Docklands, the people and families come. We’ve just got to get that right mix and a good team together that just solely works for Docklands.”
Another resident Martin said while Docklands was an entertainment precinct, it was also heavily residential and the government “can’t have it both ways”.
“We’re not ones to complain easily but it’s a mild cause for concern,” he said of the proposed venue.
Akshay Bhatia of Victoria Star Cruises said the new music venue may not be of great benefit to cruise boat operators, but it would “probably be good for Docklands to reinvigorate the whole area”.
“Docklands is quite quiet. I guess having something like that and putting a few performances on, why not? Hopefully it would stimulate the area,” he said. •
Photo: Johan Mouchet, Unsplash.