The Greek community has received a major boost as a result of the announcement on Saturday of $3.5 million of State and local government funding to rejuvenate the Greek precinct in the heart of the city.

John Brumby pledged $3.25 million of state government funding to Melbourne’s iconic Greek precinct in Lonsdale Street at the opening of the Antipodes Festival on Saturday night.

“We know that Lonsdale Street is the historic heart of Melbourne’s Hellenic Community,” the Premier said. “This investment along with the investment by the Greek Community, will ensure the Greek heart of Lonsdale Street continues to beat strongly into the future”.

Brumby said that $2 million of that committed to the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria will be invested to redevelop the Antipodes Centre for Greek Culture, Heritage and Language, and that $1.25 million will be used to transform Lonsdale Street into a vibrant outdoor dining destination.

This will include a significant Greek-themed lighting installation on the corner of Lonsdale and Russell Street and upgraded shop awnings, as well as additional works that will see the rejuvenation of Heffernan Lane with outdoor cafes and a hawker market.

An additional $250,000 was pledged by the Lord Mayor Robert Doyle towards the Lonsdale Street rejuvenation project, taking the total government contribution to $3.5 million.

The government’s investment is part of an overall multi-million-dollar facelift for Melbourne’s cultural precincts, including Chinatown, and the Italian end of Lygon Street.

“We are committed to making our cultural precincts even more attractive hubs for cultural activities, tourism and investment,” Brumby said.

State Opposition Leader, Ted Baillieu supported the state government commitment of funds to Lonsdale Street, saying, “The announcements (of the Lonsdale Street and Greek precinct)- we support very strongly…and we trust that those announcements will also assist to provide in future a plateia [Greek plaza]”.

Mr Papastergiadis in his public address to the crowds said, “I am proud to say that the Premier John Brumby’s announcement, along with the contribution of the Melbourne City Council,  represents a great leap forward towards building our new Greek Community Centre; a centre which will showcase our cultural and language achievements. The future for us has never looked brighter. Our time as Greek Australians is now!”