The History of Southbank
Before European settlement, the area now called South Melbourne was a series of low lying swamps inhabited by Aboriginal tribes. From European settlement the area which is now Southbank consisted of some old factories, warehouses and wharves, mostly built between the 1860's–1920's when the area was part of the first port of Melbourne. It had several bridges connecting it to the city, the first being the original Princes Bridge and later the Sandridge Bridge, which was formerly part of the Port Melbourne railway line from 1888 to 1987.
The Arts Centre precinct opened in the 1980's on former parkland, which was once used as an amusement park and featured the Southgate Fountain. The area was the subject of urban renewal in the 1980's and early 1990's. In part, this was aimed at stimulating development in a period when Melbourne was experiencing an acute economic downturn during the global recession on 1991–92. Denton Corker Marshall designed and oversaw the original Southbank Promenade in 1990, which paved the way for development of apartments.
Southgate, Sheraton Towers and new tall office buildings for The Herald and Weekly Times Ltd and IBM were built along with an award winning pedestrian footbridge at about the same time in late 1992, and combined with a new Sunday arts and crafts market, attracted locals and tourists to the area. At the eastern end of the area is the Victorian Arts Centre. Since then, the pylon underneath the award winning Southbank Pedestrian Bridge has been utilised and is now home to Ponyfish Island. Further buildings including the Esso headquarters were built between 1992 and 1995. Development expanded along the Yarra westward, with the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre ("Jeff's Shed") in 1996 and Crown Casino in 1997, stimulating the first residential towers. In 2001, the boutique "Melburnian" apartments, designed by Bates Smart, were one of the first to be aimed at the owner occupier market and included the most expensive penthouse sold in Melbourne at the time. Clarendon Towers also attracted the owner occupiers. Beginning with Southbank Towers in 1997, Central Equity began a swathe of apartment towers. In 2002 the neighbouring Yarra's Edge precinct of the new
Melbourne Docklands began to kick off. The arts precinct was extended with the construction of the award winning buildings for the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in 2002 and the Victorian College of the Arts school of drama. At around the same time a new headquarters for the State Emergency Service was built.
Central Equity continued construction of several blocks of apartment buildings on much of the Southbank land, which it had acquired including Riverside Place, The Summit, Sentinel, Victoria Tower, Melbourne Tower and City Tower. Central Equity apartments are aimed at both the owner occupier and rental market with management provided by Melbourne Inner City Management (MICM), a fully owned subsidiary of Central Equity. With a boom in apartment building and the success of the Melburnian, the areas closer to the river began to attract developers. The 91 floor Eureka Tower was begun in 2002, aimed at being the tallest residential tower in the world and was completed in 2006. As part of the initial construction of Southgate, St John’s Lutheran Church relocated from the land that is now the site of the Herald Sun building a few metres up City Road, to 20 City Road, and serves the Southbank community as a church and spiritual centre. The Church can be accessed either from City Rd or from the Southgate Shopping complex. The Queensbridge Precinct began development in 2005 with Freshwater Place. A plaza linked to the north bank and Flinders Street Station via a pedestrian and cycle path developed from the Sandridge Bridge. The formerly disused bridge was opened to the public on 12 March 2006, just in time for the 2006 Commonwealth Games. The Northbank promenade was completed later in 2006 to link the sections.
An increasing number of corporations began opening their offices inSouthbank.
Pricewaterhouse Coopers relocated their office from Spring Street to Freshwater Place in 2005. Other names on the list include Fujitsu, and Foster's Group. In May 2008 the Victorian Government created the new suburb place and name ‘South Wharf’, in the western end of Southbank (now encompassing the MCEC Convention Centre and the Polly Woodside National Trust museum). South Wharf is home to several large apartment buildings, along with a hotel and a large shopping centre precinct. Southbank and South Wharf share the same postcode (3006).
Credit: Wikipedia October 2016