Last bid to save the Nicholas Building before the election

Last bid to save the Nicholas Building before the election
Rhonda Dredge

The campaign to save the Nicholas Building for artists has upped the ante with the release of a grand vision for a rooftop garden and performance space by Urban Creative.

The plan includes a pavilion, an urban forest and a green public space with inbuilt solar technology.

A spokesman for the Nicholas Building Association, which is putting forward the plan, said that 75 per cent of the cost of buying the building had now been raised.

Partners in a new tripartite deal are the social impact capital firm Forza Capital, the City of Melbourne and a new purpose-built cultural foundation holding a long-term head lease from levels two to 10.

“The vital last ingredient required to realise this is a commitment from the state government,” Nicholas Buidling Association spokesperson Dario Vacirca said.

The release of the grand vision is the latest move in the push to get the state government to commit to investing in the project prior to the Victorian election.

The Greens began putting pressure on the state government in April this year with State MP for Melbourne Ellen Sandell quoted as saying that a shortfall of $10 million was required to buy the building.

“I’ve been calling on the state government to save the Nicholas Building and have been disappointed by their lack of response,” Ms Sandell said. “Labor will continue to lose inner city seats to The Greens and independents if they don’t take meaningful action to support artists and creative communities.”

“The state government could easily secure the creative future of the Nicholas Building by committing a small amount of funding. The council, philanthropists and the tenants are all on board, so why is the State Labor Government refusing to come to the table?”

The City of Melbourne has expressed in principle support for the vision of the Nicholas Building Association.

“We welcome efforts to expand its operation and help make itself sustainable through an annual program of cultural and arts events and new public spaces within the building,” Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece said. •

“Obviously any planning application associated with building works will be assessed by the City of Melbourne in the usual way and will need to comply with relevant planning regulations and controls.”

The Nicholas Building currently houses more than 200 creative studios and businesses including galleries, literature, film, music, architecture, design, fine art, performance art, theatre, opera, lifelong education, tech, VR art, tech innovation, tailors, millinery, jewellery, bespoke bookshops, occult wares, and local fashion.

The building was put on the market in July 2021 at an asking price of around $80 million. •


Caption: Artist’s impression of new roof garden.

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