CENTRAL PIER BEFORE the closure

Heritage listed, Central Pier, is an iconic waterfront destination and the heartbeat of the Docklands precinct.

A hub of entertainment, events and hospitality, Central Pier is home to 8 businesses and 1300 jobs.

This bustling and historic waterfront runway is home to Woolshed, Austage Events, Mill & Bakery, Mama Rumaan, Alumbra and Atlantic Group event spaces (Peninsula, MAIÀ, Sumac and Sketch).

Once the life of the party… Central Pier is now on life support!

CENTRAL PIER After closure

Central Pier was shut down with no warning by Development Victoria on 28 August 2019 for 4 weeks due to structural safety concerns. Then on 24 September, despite not doing any further inspections, the closure was extended to 6 January 2020.

On 3 January 2020, Development Victoria announced their decision to permanently close the 100 year old Central Pier due to safety concerns. The news of the closure has left tenants, staff and the Docklands community devastated. The shocking outcome is the result of an extensive 15-week assessment of Central Pier by engineering firm KBR.

“Even if we were to invest significant funds and time in repairs, our engineers advise the issues will continue to resurface without ongoing specialist maintenance work. This investment would still not guarantee that the pier can be made safe for public access in the medium to long term due to its ongoing deterioration,” chief executive of Development Victoria, Angela Skandarajah said.

Questions remain around the previous repairs and inspections on the pier prior to the 28 of August 2019. Maintaining the pier formed part of Development Victoria’s responsibilities and with no prior warning of an accelerated deterioration, everyone is wondering how the regular inspections failed to identify what could have been a shocking catastrophe.

Tenants were given no time to inform their staff of the decision before it was released to the media. Tenants, staff and the wider community remain in disbelief as Development Victoria continue to discuss demolishing the heritage pier with questions around when this may happen and what activation will take its place, yet to be answered.

Development Victoria have refused to properly support or engage with the tenants throughout this process. It refuses to provide the engineering report justifying the closure or allow independent engineers on site. Tenants and staff have learnt more through the media than from Development Victoria.

Development Victoria have offered just $1 million in support to the tenants and staff, refusing to increase this amount despite the extended closure. It costs the tenants on Central Pier close to $2 million a month just to cover costs. Development Victoria continues to tell the media that it is supporting the businesses and staff but cannot point to what it is doing.

The closure of Central Pier has had a devastating impact on the 1300 employees and 8 businesses operating on the pier – for many people this has been life changing.

Staff are desperate for answers and under considerable stress, they’re worried about how they will pay their bills and cover their mortgages, some have already been evicted – they just want a straight answer from Development Victoria.

There is also the knock-on effect of this decision. The cleaners, the musicians and entertainers, the security guards who all relied on Central Pier for the livelihoods are now without a significant portion of their income.

The longer this goes on, the harder it will be for all Central Pier businesses and their staff to return.

Development Victoria asked the tenants on Central Pier to transform this heritage listed site, leading to up to $50 million of new investment into Central Pier. This investment was made on the understanding that Development Victoria, as landlord, accepted its legal obligation to monitor and maintain Central Pier.

We are heading into the busiest event season of the year, Melbourne is on the world stage and our waterfront is out of action.

The Docklands Chamber of Commerce reports that businesses in the Docklands are seeing a downturn due to the closure, the pier attracted millions of people each year to the precinct and it was the key attraction outside of the AFL season.

According to Development Victoria’s own website, Docklands sustains an estimated 2,500-3000 jobs annually, 1300 of these jobs are on Central Pier.

Major cities around the world restore and maintain their piers and wharves but today very few of Melbourne’s remain. Now, due to Development Victoria’s inability to manage Central Pier, this historic 100 year old site may be lost forever.