The Block and Fishermans Bend

At a sneak preview of The Block apartments on 7 September, Port Phillip Mayor, Councillor Bernadene Voss, spoke of the Council’s vision for Fishermans Bend.

It was welcome to hear her comments on the importance of Port Melbourne’s history and heritage to that vision.

“Welcome to Port Phillip Council’s celebration of Fishermans Bend’s ‘new kid on the block’.

The transformation of a boarded-up former soap and candle factory office into these stunning apartments is a tremendous achievement that help sets the tone for this exciting, emerging precinct.

The J Kitchen and Son’s factory, which became Unilever, was one of several operations at the heart of Port Melbourne’s industrial engine room. Iconic brands such as Velvet and Solvol soaps were produced there and in the 1920s this building, then one of the most modern offices of its kind, was also a social hub for many proud Kitchen employees.

A social room in this building was used by J Kitchen and Sons to throw balls for employees and their families and Santa dropped by every year to hand presents to children.

As a Council, we are striving to retain and incorporate the history and heritage of Fishermans Bend, including at other historic sites like this, as Australia’s biggest urban renewal development unfolds.

A number of heritage places are already identified for protection through our planning scheme and further proposed heritage controls are being progressed through a planning scheme amendment.

Council’s current heritage requirements were embraced by The Block team and, as you will see on your tour, we are delighted they have retained the art deco influence.

Some fantastic, modern sustainability features have also been incorporated into this 1920s building. These include solar panels and making provision for future recycled water.

This blending of the old and the new is exactly what we want to see in Fishermans Bend so it lives up to its enormous potential as a world class place to live, work and visit.

Our Council has said from the beginning that a project of Fishermans Bend’s significance merits bold, innovative and aspirational targets and standards which set new benchmarks for housing diversity, building design, open space, walkability, sustainability, transport and economic development.

This is a once in a generation opportunity that must not be missed. We thank the Victorian Government, Fishermans Bend Taskforce, City of Melbourne and our community for their efforts and energy as we work together on achieving these essential outcomes.

Our strong partnership with the Victorian Government in the Ferrars Street Education and Community Precinct has already resulted in a jointly purchased park and Council has funded community, sporting facilities and upgrades to surrounding streets there.

We congratulate The Block team on achieving their aim of setting a high standard for other developers with this sympathetic and sophisticated restoration, and look forward to others following your lead.”

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