The Melbourne City Council is buying up a North Melbourne block.
The buying program started about six years ago and the council now owns at least half the Capel Street block – an area bounded by Peel, Dudley, William, Capel and Victoria Streets.
The Acting Town Clerk, Mr. T. M. McCaw, said today: “Public knowledge of council land deals may negate present and future negotiations.
“People would have a yardstick by which to value their property.”
The council started buying properties in “the purple patch” to help the State Government in redevelopment plans for Victoria Market.
But the Government last year scrapped the plan for the block – which was shaded purple on the drawing by Market Planners, a consortium of architects and would have included high rise commercial development and an international hotel.
The council’s finance committee then recommended that council continue to buy properties because of its big financial commitment in the block.
Ratepayers and asking why property is being acquired if the council has no definite policy for the area.
Residents and business-men in the block are uncertain how long they can continue to live and trade in the area.
The building and town planning committee will be asked next week whether the block should be part of the market redevelopment or developed separately.
The council will not reveal the price paid or the properties – though estimates put the block’s value at well over $3.5 million.
I believe the block will be used for prime residential redevelopment.
It would become a prized urban spot adjoining the market and only a few minutes walk from the FLagstaff Gardens, the proposed museum loop station and the city.
The council would probaly get a private company to develop the low-level duster housing which would be tailored for executive living.
Like all land purchases by the council, the properties have been approved behind closed doors with the council in committee.
Melbourne city councillors have their own ideas about the block.
The lord Mayor, Cr Walker, said it should be “a buffer zone” between the redeveloped market and North Melbourne.
The chairman of the building and town planning committee, Cr John Woodruff, said he would like the block redeveloped for residential use.
Cr L. T. Fox, a member of the special Queen Victoria market redevelopment committee, said the block should be part of the market redevelopment.
Cr D. R. White, also a member of the special committee said: “Ratepayers are entitled know what is being spent and for what purpose.”
Cr J. R. Powell, who represents North Melbourne said “Why is it that the council is so short of funds it is engaged in a sort of Housing Commission redevelopment program”
He said people living in the block should be told what is happening.
Capel Street resident Miss Mandy Gray, a Melbourne University student, said: “You have a funny feeling when living between two vacant council-owned houses especially when one is always being broken into by homeless men who light fires on the floorboards”
Peel Street Asian food trader Mr Pelly Chang said the council recently bought his warehouse.
‘It is unsettling for business not knowing how long I will be able to trade here,” he said.
source: The Age 26th July 1976 by Grant Aldous.