Historic arcade set for $25 million makeover

Brendan Rees

The CBD’s historic Tivoli Arcade will be given a fresh lease of life under a $25 million revitalisation plan to create a “new destination hub”.

Owners of the arcade, Futuro Capital, a Sydney-based investment group, want to revamp the run-down building, which was the former site of the Tivoli Theatre built in the 1860s.

Under the plan, the project would see the arcade’s mid-century tower transformed into an A-grade commercial building and integrated with the lobby at 235 Bourke St.  

It would also invite “high street retail and up-market food and beverage offerings” while providing an improved link between the Bourke Street Mall and the iconic Rainbow Alley, a previously underutilised public thoroughfare.

Futuro Capital has engaged architects Fender Katsalidis – who designed the Eureka Tower and Australia 108 buildings – to redesign the 38,000 sqm area including the entire ground floor, end of trip facility, level lobbies, and amenities.

“We have embraced the laneway as an opportunity to increase connection with the ground floor plane through a physical linkage,” Fender Katsalidis principal Rosie Morley said.


“Our approach has been to strip back the layers of materiality which have been added over time to reveal more of the building’s existing structure. The intention is to celebrate this original character and tie it into the fabric of Melbourne’s unique laneway DNA.”


Set for completion in 2023, connections at various levels within the arcade would be introduced with double-height volumes and an outdoor terrace on the third floor.

Futuro Capital’s executive director Ben Hopkins said the refurbishment, which would feature “top quality retail and commercial users”, was expected to be “fully leased” before construction was completed.

“We’re already seeing an extensive amount of enquiry from retail and food and beverage tenants, drawn to the building’s attractive location, the expansive new commercial entrance and the upmarket retail offering through Rainbow Alley,” he said.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp welcomed the project saying it showed a huge vote of confidence in the future of the city centre as it recovered from the pandemic.

“Melbourne’s architectural landscape is renowned the world over for our beautifully crafted buildings and inimitable laneways,” the Lord Mayor said.

“We’re not just a beautiful city, we are a prosperous city. As the engine room of Victoria, Melbourne city’s economy contributes a quarter of the gross state product.”

“As we continue our sustained economic bounce back, it is thoughtful and quality additions to our CBD – such as this project at 235 Bourke St – that maintain our reputation as the most liveable city in Australia.”

Renowned architect firm Bates Smart is also working in partnership with the redevelopment’s design by tackling the building’s exterior.

The overall development would complement the City of Melbourne’s plan to protect, respect and celebrate quality heritage architecture in the CBD, Futuro Capital said. 

CBD News understands the building became the Tivoli Arcade in 1914 after serving as a theatre, before it was damaged by a fire in 1967.

Futuro Capital and partners Baring Private Equity Asia and SLB Development bought 235 Bourke St through two separate deals totalling $206 million, which was completed in April 2021. •


Caption: An artist’s impression of a $25 million refurbishment of the CBD’s Tivoli Arcade.

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