Demolition set to revive CBD

Andy Pobjoy in Dennys Place last September. (Rebecca Hosking) 215387_02

By Luke Voogt

A demolition several years in the making to extend and “rejuvenate” a central Geelong laneway could begin as early as next month.

Joint state-council authority Revitalising Central Geelong on Tuesday announced Melbourne-based company Akt Project Management would oversee the extension of Dennys Place.

While yet to confirm an exact start date, Revitalising Central Geelong told the Independent work “will commence early in the new financial year”.

“We will make an announcement in the coming weeks,” a spokesperson said.

Revitalising Central Geelong expects to complete the project by December, just in time for the 2021-22 summer.

Once complete, the project will extend Dennys Place from Malop Street to the hospitality precinct in Little Malop Street.

The project aims to attract visitors to Little Malop Street bars, restaurants and shops to bring “new life” to central Geelong.

The laneway extension is part of an overall council push to create more walking routes, increase pedestrians and improve safety across central Geelong.

“Geelong’s new laneway network will play a key part in rejuvenating the CBD, and enhancing the vibrancy and appeal of central Geelong for our diverse community,” Geelong mayor Stephanie Asher said.

“Encouraging more pedestrians into the smaller streets and laneways will drive new business enterprises and support healthy and active transport.”

The project involves demolishing the former Guf Geelong internet cafe, which relocated a block east to 2/73 Malop Street last October.

State government has invested $2.7 million in new pedestrian connections across Geelong, with another $1.35 million allocated from the $382.5 million state-federal Geelong City Deal.

“Dennys Place is exactly the sort of project we had in mind when we signed the Geelong City Deal,” Victorian Regional Development Minister Mary-Anne Thomas said.

“It’s about building new connections and attractions, linking key precincts and creating important local jobs.”

A pedestrian and cycling movement study conducted by UK-based consultancy Space Syntax found that improving Geelong’s laneway system would contribute “significantly” to the city’s prosperity.

The project also includes plans for greenery, seating and public art.