Serge’s Column – October

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Palais and Triangle!

I had the pleasure of organising a sailing trip for the cast of the play The Last Confession a couple of days ago. Looking at the foreshore from our boat – our boat actually won! – I was struck by all the work we have to do at the moment.

Of course the Palais Theatre, in its new “white robe” stood out, reminding me of how significant this live performance venue is. There is Donovan’s, which partially burned down and needs to be rebuilt, and the empty site where the Stokehouse will stand again soon as the Planning Minister recently approved plans for the new building.

There is also the St Kilda Triangle, and a bit further away the skate park at the marina where competitions may happen if the Environment Minister approves a trial and further consultation in the New Year with users and residents. It was very moving to see two young skaters, Julian, 6, and Benny, 8, come to the Council Chamber to advocate for their right to compete and meet their heroes at events at THEIR skate park.

Back to the Palais … Many people have asked me if we are repainting the theatre, which is owned by the State Government. I wish it were that simple. As you have noticed, scaffolding surrounds the building. We have made the Palais safe and are keeping the scaffolding for the next stage which involves repairing all the outside walls.

We are finalising the audit of the building and it looks like we will need up to $40 million to do all the work that must be done, from plumbing, an electrical upgrade, DDA access and compliance to backstage facilities.

The community at large, and key people in the music and entertainment industry, are getting involved and engendering support to get a message to the State Government that our Grande Dame needs help.

I would like to encourage you to do a selfie and tweet your pics to #ilovemypalais @Vic_Premier

Artists such as Tina Arena, Tex Perkins, and supporter Molly Meldrum, are already committed to the campaign and tweeted their pic!

You are most welcome to contact me with your ideas. Together, we will make it happen. It is a big sum but I am very positive!

Regarding the Triangle, I am very pleased to report the Working Groups set up by Council are full of ideas and things are going well. We have a large group of people all working together to come up with agreed outcomes. I would like to remind people that in 2007, the community rebelled against the proposal that was approved at the time — a shopping mall with 186 shops, supermarket, hotel, nightclubs and bars for up to 6,000 people. I led the campaign at the time and this is what prompted me to run for Council, to give people a voice and deliver a project that will be loved and owned by the community.

I am still very pleased we managed to stop the previous proposal and we are now more committed than ever to come up with a great proposition. Council has set up these five working groups and a steering committee that will meet a number of times and aim to shape a vision and parameters for a design brief. This brief will then inform a collaborative design workshop in 2015 which will involve the community as well as other interested parties and decision makers. Hopefully, this will culminate in a concept design and final design brief for detailed design…

Council has no preconceived idea of what should happen on the site. The 2012 St Kilda Triangle Vision document is a base for our discussions. I am thrilled that people who were involved in Federation Square are part of our thinking.

You can stay informed by checking all the work that is being done on our website: and I am looking forward to all your great ideas and input.

Until next month!

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