First closed last August, the site century-old won’t be reopening as it currently stands.
Melburnians won’t be heading back to Docklands’ Central Pier for a wine, dine or a dance by the water any time soon, with the century-old pier remaining closed indefinitely. After evacuating the site back in August 2019, then undertaking engineering evaluations to determine the extent of the structure’s safety risks, Development Victoria has now revealed that it won’t be reopening the spot as it currently stands.
Central Pier — and all the businesses located on it — were initially deemed off limits after engineers advised the structure had suffered significant deterioration and was unsafe for use. Popular residents including gastropub The Woolshed, artisan breadhouse Mill & Bakery and Middle Eastern eatery Mama Rumaan were evacuated on the spot, while nightclub Alumbra and the pier’s numerous events spaces were also declared no-go zones.
At the time, Geoff Ward, spokesperson for Development Victoria — the pier’s landlord — revealed the site had undergone structural stabilisation in the past two years and had consistently been given the safety tick of approval.”Engineers have been inspecting the pier every two months since November 2018 and had previously provided certification that supported the ongoing occupation of the pier,” he confirmed. But August’s assessment saw immediate closure of the pier, as well as the implementation of fencing and signage across the front of Central Pier, preventing any access — and the beginning of a 15-week assessment process.
The results of that investigation are now known, with Development Victoria deciding that “due to the complexity and age of the structure of the pier, repairs required to bring the pier back into service would be extensive”. The move comes after engineers found that “despite previous repairs, the rate of deterioration to the piles that support the pier is accelerating due to rot, marine borer and termite attacks”.
Explaining the decision, Angela Skandarajah, Development Victoria’s CEO, advised “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.”
Just what the future holds for Central Pier is now unclear — it won’t be reopening in its current form, but Development Victoria says that it “will work closely with Heritage Victoria, the community and a range of other stakeholders to identify opportunities to rebuild the pier so it can be safely used by the community.”
In a Facebook post, Atlantic Group (which leases and operates several venues and event spaces on the pier, including nightclub Alumbra) expressed disbelief at the decision, as well as its timing during the current bushfire crisis — and advised that it’ll be postponing any press conferences about the news until after the natural disaster subsides.