$4m revamp set for Fitzroy Gardens pavilion
The Fitzroy Gardens pavilion is set to undergo a $4 million revamp as its new hospitality operators, including world-class chef Hugh Allen, prepare to move in.
The announcement was made at the City of Melbourne’s Future Melbourne Committee meeting on August 15 where councillors voted in favour of locking in a 15-year lease with Vue Group, which is renowned for its esteemed restaurant Vue de Monde at the Rialto Towers.
Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece expressed his excitement for the new venture in what he hoped might become the next Noma on the Gardens or New York City’s Central Park.
“This is a hugely exciting moment for Melbourne, and something I think that all Melburnians can look forward to with great anticipation, especially the residents of East Melbourne,” he said.
The Fitzroy Gardens pavilion was built in 1963 to replace the original building, which served as a kiosk and tearooms from 1908 before it was later demolished.
The present pavilion more recently operated as a café, but closed at the expiry of its lease in March 2017 mainly due to the building’s deteriorating condition and the major renewal works that were required to continue to operate a sustainable café space.
Until its closure, the pavilion had been an iconic fixture of Melbourne, attracting visitors to enjoy its beautiful garden surrounds and dining offerings.
After initial hopes of finding a tenant to use the venue as a multi-use community space was unsuccessful, the council undertook a commercial expression of interest in December last year, in which three submissions were received from hospitality operators.
At the council meeting Cr Reece said the council “couldn’t make it stack up” to keep the pavilion as a community space, which turned their efforts to offering an “innovative food and beverage destination” instead.
Under the new lease with Vue Group, rent costs will start at $157,050 per year, with annual increases of 3.3 per cent.
The council’s deputy planning portfolio lead Rohan Leppert, said, “We absolutely welcomed the $4 million investment in filling out the place, which is a serious investment, and in an exchange, that’s how the 15-year lease stacks up”.
“This is a really extraordinary offer, and it is it is something that I hope is a great benefit for Fitzroy Gardens and Melbourne,” he said.
Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the “quality and a scale of investment and ambition that I think really matches the status of Fitzroy Gardens”.
“It’s this sort of activity that become absolute draw cards for locals but also for visitors to Fitzroy Gardens,” she said, adding the agreement with Vue Group would add “something very distinctive” and “very special”.
East Melbourne Group president Greg Bisinella said residents welcomed the activation of the pavilion.
“It has remained underutilised for some time and this iconic location deserves a world-class venue operator that will be accessible to the East Melbourne community and many visitors who come to the magnificent gardens,” he said.
“We await further specific details, but in principle accept the council process has been thorough and has come up with the right model and operator for the venue.”
Vue Group was contacted for comment.