Shuttered off for 30 years, the iconic ballroom at Melbourne's Flinders St Station could be reopened in a $100 million upgrade of the crumbling building.
The ballroom above the busy rail interchange was closed in 1985, along with large areas of the station. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says it’s time the “grand old dame” of Melbourne got a facelift, 105 years after it opened in 1910.
The previous government ran a design competition for billion-dollar proposals to redevelop the precinct, but Mr Andrews said those plans had been dumped.
“I don’t think there’s a design problem here. I think there is a maintenance problem,” he told reporters.
Mr Andrews said the boarded-off ballroom and gym could make a comeback once the rotting roof was repaired and other upgrades finished.
“Those spaces will be used, and I think there will be a modern take on those very significant historical spaces,” he said.
But Mr Andrews said the government would wait to see what proposals were put forward before committing to keeping the ballroom as a ballroom. Opposition public transport spokesman David Hodgett said Labor’s $100 million over four years would barely cover the annual maintenance budget.
“It will barely give it a patched roof and a lick of paint, so that is disappointing,” Mr Hodgett told reporters.
Mr Hodgett said the coalition had selected a design and had been working on a business case in preparation for future budgets on a $1.5 billion to $2 billion redevelopment.
Victorian Tourism Industry Council CEO Dianne Smith said upgrades to platforms, entrances, toilets and information displays will make the station more user-friendly, especially for first-time visitors.
“These upgrades are essential to manage increasing visitor and passenger numbers and will encourage more people to use our transport system to explore Melbourne,” Ms Smith said.
Along with new myki gates and ticket offices, a giant rainbow timetabling board will be installed facing Federation Square and the tram interchange.
The upgrades will be built over the next five years.