The works for the rejuvenation project of Lonsdale Street are expected to begin in June and to conclude by July 2010.

This was confirmed by the Mayor of Melbourne Robert Doyle when asked by Neos Kosmos English Edition (NKEE) to provide details regarding the recent announcement of securing $1.5 million for the enhancement of the Greek precinct in Lonsdale St.

This amount along with another $2 million earmarked for a Greek Cultural Centre was pledged by Premier John Brumby as part of the $8 million Cultural Precincts Enhancement Fund reaffirming last week’s NKEE report.

The City of Melbourne who has also committed $250,000 will be working along with the Victorian Multicultural Commission towards the completion of various projects.

“The fund covers restoration of key lane ways, street beautification, art work, landscaping and lighting and boost resources for the communities to enhance and showcase their culture and heritage Greek Precinct on Lonsdale Street,” Mayor Robert Doyle said.

The plan includes an awning upgrade and the re-cladding of existing building awnings, new fascias, standardised shop signage and new skylights all estimated at a total cost of $700,000 with the City contributing $100,000.

The precinct will have a new light installation suspended over the intersection of Lonsdale and Russell Streets which will act as a getaway featuring a catenary lighting system with a price tag of $550,000 of which $150,000 is committed by the City of Melbourne. 

New glass screens will be erected in front of a number of cafes for which advice will be provided on concept and design.

These plans will be complemented by the upgrade of the Heffeman Laneway to facilitate usage for cafes and markets that will also link Chinatown with the Greek precinct at a cost of $35,000 also to be covered by the City.

The story of Greek culture and migration to Melbourne will also be detailed through a various plaques, multi-media and electronic mediums, enabling visitors to the precinct to also learn about the urban and social  history telling of this once very vibrant Greek precinct. It should be noted that the City has already provided a $50,000 sponsorship to the Antipodes Festival that took place on March 21 and 22.  

When asked by NKEE about the consultation process that has preceded the rejuvenation project of Lonsdale and if key stakeholders have agreed with the plans, Melbourne Mayor Cr Doyle said: “The community has been actively engaged and consulted with since 2006. Extensive consultations have been held via forums, information sessions, one on one feedback as well as briefings on design concepts and processes. Design briefs for the projects to enhance the cultural precincts have been agreed upon after an extensive consultation process. The community has demonstrated significant support for the enhancement of the cultural precincts.”