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New development plan for contentious St Kilda site ‘where ideas come to die’

The new $3.8 million proposal includes the creation of a plaza by closing the road in front of the theatre and linking the area with the public space outside Luna Park.

“Previous ideas have involved hundreds of millions of dollars and they have always gone wrong on the triangle, whereas this one is just … to provide a public open space,” Cr Gross said in a promotional video for the new forecourt.

An artist's impression of what ice cream and penguin shaped anti-terrorism bollards could look like at the site.

An artist’s impression of what ice cream and penguin shaped anti-terrorism bollards could look like at the site.

The road closure will see 20 car parks removed from a total of 767 in the precinct.

The project also includes a raised pedestrian crossing on Cavell Street, which runs between Luna Park and the Palais Theatre and new garden beds, trees and lighting.

Cr Gross said part of an “incredibly ugly” breeze block concrete fence that runs along the St Kilda Esplanade would be removed.

He told The Age he expected it to be a popular proposal, as it was modest and didn’t include any commercial developments.

Port Phillip councillor Dick Gross.

Port Phillip councillor Dick Gross.Credit:Simon Schluter

“There’s always controversy about anything to do with that site, but I did take comfort that some of the old warriors from past battles chimed in on Facebook and said they liked it,” he said.

“This is an iconic site. It’ll be a place where people can congregate.”

However, it’s not set in stone yet, with St Kilda residents set to have their say during a consultation period.

“You’d be mad not to be scared,” Cr Gross said.

The site in 1915.

The site in 1915.

If the consultation process goes smoothly, work is expected to take nine months to complete.

Port Phillip council will contribute $2.5 million to the redevelopment and an additional $1.3 million will be provided by the state government as part of its $154 million local parks program.

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Some disruptions are expected during the forecourt’s construction, but visitors will still have access to the amusement park and theatre.

Cr Gross said there were still no plans for what could be built on the 418-space car park beside the theatre, across from the beach.

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