Geelong Mayor Darryn Lyons seeks funds to revive CBD ‘wasteland’
It is a tale of two cities: Geelong’s modern waterfront developments sitting just a couple of blocks away from streets of neglected buildings and empty shops.
In the words of locals, the city’s CBD has become a retail wasteland.
But in a bid to rejuvenate both the CBD and the greater economy, the local council has delivered its funding wishlist to the Victorian Government.
The plan includes a $25 million cruise ship pier and new public spaces including a green wedge that has already been labelled a mini Hyde Park by Geelong Mayor Darryn Lyons.
“Building a central park either along Malop Street or along the mall has been my dream, with a huge video screen,” Councillor Lyons said.
“The Yarra Street Pier is crucial not only to the development of world class sailing down here, but it’s cruise ships, it’s a million [dollars] a day into the economy.”
He said the tourism industry employs about 5,000 people in Geelong and is worth more than $1 billion to the local economy.
The flamboyant mayor is also pushing for funds to double the amount of inner-city living in Geelong and better public transport.
Premier Denis Napthine says he is impressed with Councillor Lyons’ enthusiasm for Geelong.
“We have a number of things on the agenda here in Geelong, but the Mayor was very clear about his key priority about the Yarra Pier and the cruise ships, and also for some strategic works within the CBD to revitalise the CBD,” he said.
Council seeks upgrade to AFL ground
The council is also seeking funding for stage four of the upgrade to Kardinia Park.
The Premier, who is a Geelong Cats fan, visited the Cats’ home ground on Thursday to promote several sporting events that will be held there next month.
Rugby union side Melbourne Rebels will take on Wellington Hurricanes in Geelong in February, before Geelong and Collingwood face off in the AFL pre-season tournament.
Then the ground will be used for soccer, when Melbourne Victory will play in an Asian Football Confederation Championships qualifying match.
Councillor Lyons says he will continue to lobby for the upgrade to the stadium to increase capacity, and to allow for more events including cricket and music concerts to be held there.
Marginal seats in the spotlight
Councillor Lyons’ revival plan may benefit from the upcoming November state election.
There are two Labor-held marginal seats in Geelong – Bellarine and Geelong – and the Premier says those seats are winnable for the Coalition.
“We’ll be contesting every seat,” Dr Napthine said.
The seat of Geelong is of particular interest.
In 1999, Labor’s Ian Tresize won the seat by just 16 votes over the sitting member Ann Henderson.
It was one of the last Coalition seats to fall to Labor, delivering Steve Bracks a historic win over Jeff Kennett.