A new Greek Centre on the Yarra

The Greek Community of Melbourne (GCM) is pleased to announce a plan that will not only contribute to the development of the site at Bulleen, but will financially strengthen the GCM and create new facilities and services for all Greeks in Melbourne. The Plan focuses on the Community’s core activities and services and brings together organizations from across Melbourne in a landmark development called “Greek Centre on the Yarra».

“The Plan is visionary and testament to the hard work of my fellow Board members, “ said GCM president Bill Papastergiadis of the Proposal. “The Plan resolves the significant difficulties associated with the Bulleen site and will create a space for Greek organisations to call home. The Plan compliments the work of the GCM in its CBD Centre and across its broad program of activity.”

The Plan is to:
1. Secure the removal of the onerous overlays on close to 2.6 hectares of the site. This is something that the GCM has been working on for almost two years with specialist consultants.
2. Sell 1/6th of the site for $11 million to a developer brought forward by consultants who plan to build housing onsite.
3. Collaborate with Government on the creation of wetlands on the flood prone and hence unusable part of the land. The earthworks and landscaping necessary estimated to cost $2 million dollars will be paid for by the developer and Government. The ongoing maintenance of this land will be the responsibility of Government.
4. Partner with an appropriate organisation on the development of the GCM retained part of the site, for the construction of an iconic Greek Centre on the Yarra as conceptualised by one of Australia’s leading architects, Billy Kavellaris of KUD architects.

This new Centre will house: 
a. Aged Care facilities 
b. Education facilities allowing the GCM to bring together a number of campuses in the region and save up to $100,000 per annum in rent
c. Community meeting, gallery and function spaces that will offer a tangible location for community organisations to call home with spaces to meet, celebrate and exhibit their archives and collections.
d. Retail spaces for a café and or restaurant
e. On the balance of the GCM land that remains under a flood zone, the plan is to construct sporting fields that are in much demand by local clubs and schools. These are of little impact to the construction of the Centre.
5. It is important to stress the financial considerations for the GCM associated with this plan. As proposed, the GCM will net approximately $10m from the sale, receive an ongoing profit share from the Aged Care facility once operational, receive rental from the retail outlets and from the sporting field and save close to $100,000 annually from school rentals that will no longer need to be paid. Furthermore, with regard to the construction of the new building, a joint venture with a third party will be sought to fund the construction.

According to Mr. Papastergiadis the development of the Bulleen site has being a constant request raised with him by many community leaders. “Create a space for us to meet and keep our archives, then we will invest in it’ is constantly said to me” says Papastergiadis. “Not only we are creating a space which is needed by the community, but the project adds so much more to the social and cultural fabric of the community in Victoria. We will work with all of the key stakeholders to ensure that the needs of Greek Australians are appropriately met. This project along with the acclaimed 15 level Greek Centre in the CBD now defines Melbourne as the global Hellenic HQ.”

“The Board’s proposal is an ideal solution to a perennial dilemma with respect to the development of the old Bulleen Drive-In site that has preoccupied the Greek Community for 30 years,” said the General Secretary of the organisation Costas Markos. “This multifaceted project will provide a cultural and educational infrastructure to accommodate the wealth of creativity within our community. The addition of an aged care facility will assist immensely to the current lack of facilities and services for the elderly within our community. The Board of the GCM strongly believes that the proposal will be adopted unanimously by the GCM members and will also be embraced by other Greek organisations.”

The GCM’s Vice President Nikolaos Koukouvitakis pointed out “that this is a dream coming true for the community… we have a unique opportunity to develop Bulleen. This is a project for all Greeks and the whole community must support it.”

Theo Markos, GCM’s Vice President and Education Coordinator, said: “As an active member of the GCM since the early 80s, I am familiar with the site and its problematic history. For the first time in 30 years, the circumstances are such that will allow us to constructively use this piece of land in a way that will benefit the entire community. Voting in favor of the proposal is the only way that will ensure the implementation of the future plans of our organization. “