By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Greater Dandenong Council is set to investigate ways to resuscitate Dandenong’s declining CBD.
The report into The State of the Dandenong Activity Centre will look at changes to the parking regime, including the introduction of free parking, to attract businesses and shoppers.
Other options include peak and off-peak rates, altered parking times and seasonal charging.
Report proponent Cr Jim Memeti said the Lonsdale Street retail area had been recently rocked by the exodus of the ‘Big Four’ major banks plus Bank of Melbourne and Bank of Queensland.
As well, several real estate agents are on the move, with the Jim Dandy Hotel put up for sale as a vacant possession.
Many of the vacated sites have been yet to be filled, leaving pockets of the main street resembling a ghost town.
“A lot of people in central Dandenong are putting their hands up saying they need help,” Cr Memeti said.
“They say why do Springvale and Noble Park get free parking and we have to pay in central Dandenong?
“We’ve got to balance what is fair for everybody.”
The failed A-League bid for Team 11 and a stadium in central Dandenong had been hoped to provide a boost to the traders.
There was a promise of 1000 jobs and 465,000 visitors to stimulate new hotels, cafes, restaurants as well as the existing attractions such as Dandenong Market.
“We won’t be sitting on our laurels,” Cr Memeti said in the wake of Football Federation Australia’s rejection of the licence bid.
“We’ll be coming up with new ideas – and I think this report becomes more important now.”
The struggles come after $800 million has been ploughed into the CBD from governments and private developers as part of Revitalising Central Dandenong.
Cr Memeti said it had proved a “half-job”. The district was in better shape a decade earlier but RCD hadn’t yet done what it was meant to do.
He called for the State Government to scrap the area’s 5 per cent development levy, which deterred construction.
Real estate agent Ashton Ashokkumar said free parking was required to lure shoppers back to the vacant shopfronts near Boyd Lane.
He also called for action on the seagull plague, arsons and putrid overflowing rubbish that was a blight on the area.
“It’s a good outcome that the council are doing something.
“We need to make sure that after the review they then take action.”
Meanwhile the council has unveiled a new temporary artwork in Boyd Lane, which connects Lonsdale Street and Palm Plaza.
‘Cube Lane’ by contemporary artist Brett Ashby is an installation of carefully-placed blocks on the lane’s façade and ground.
It was painted with the help of local primary school students.
It is part of Greater Dandenong’s Transformed temporary public art program.