Shayher Group is moving forward on a $1 billion transformation of the former Pentridge Prison in Melbourne’s inner-north.
The first stage of the shopping centre and apartment project is scheduled to open at the end of the year and includes a 15-screen cinema, more than 20 specialty stores and 500 underground carpark spaces.
Future stages on the 6.7-hectare heritage site at Wardens Walk, Coburg include up to 1,500 residences across 12 residential buildings as well as four multi-use buildings expected to accommodate up to 1,500 daily workers.
The 18-floor hotel is set to open in late 2021 which connects to the heritage listed former B-Division cell blocks.
The Pentridge Prison site was purchased by Shayher Group in 2013 and required extensive planning consultation with state and local authorities.
The prison was originally established as a penal stockade in 1851 and was constructed of locally sourced bluestone, creating the iconic feature walls around the site.
According to the Heritage Council of Victoria, Pentridge replaced the Melbourne Gaol as the main remand and reception prison of the metropolitan area in 1924 and was eventually downgraded and finally closed in 1997, with the land then sold off.
The opening of the Pentridge retail precinct in Coburg comes at a tough time for Melbourne City which has seen a drop in $254 million for retail trade and $1.990 billion for food and accommodation services, according to the latest outlook report.
However, Colliers retail leasing manager Mark Reid said tenants were looking to the future, with 80 per cent of retail space already pre-committed.
“The main trade area population is forecast to reach 186,400 people by the year 2026, with annual expenditure in this area expected to be $3.4 billion,” Reid said.
“Pentridge is a unique proposition, we purposefully chose to move away from the replication of retail you see in most retail locations around Melbourne.”
There is a focus on smaller retailers to fill the space alongside Palace Cinemas, a four-star Adina Hotel and Ritchies Fine Food and Wine Merchants.
Meanwhile, the Victorian government has announced plans to increase capacity at five operational prisons, after signing a $41 million contract to build new cells.
The 460 prefabricated steel modular cells will be built by Modular Building Systems, with work on plumbing, electrical, furniture and fixtures undertaken in the Melbourne suburb of Campbellfield.
The cells will expand prisons at Lara, Castlemaine, Ararat and the Metropolitan Remand Centre, with construction is expected to be completed by mid-2023.
Once cell manufacturing is complete an extensive construction program will commence for cell accommodation blocks and a range of supporting infrastructure.
Barwon Prison will be the first to have the new cells installed, expanding its capacity to accommodate a total of 640 prisoners by late 2022.
Supporting infrastructure for the additional beds at Barwon will include a visitor centre, light industries building and men’s shed. The existing programs and medical building will also be expanded and refurbished, along with the construction of internal fencing.
Across the Victorian prison system, 1,600 new beds will become available as part of the 2019-20 Victorian Budget’s $1.8 billion Community Corrections Services investment to meet future demand and deliver programs to help reduce reoffending.