The City of Yarra has decided that the next new years eve celebration in Edinburgh Gardens in North Fitzroy will be alcohol free. This is in response to the repeated trashing of the gardens in recent years on new years eve and Australia Day, with the worst example being last new years eve, where the gardens were so packed with irresponsible idiots that brave Ambulance staff refused to wade through the crowds for fear of injury and sexual assault.
The problem is controlling crowds and the alcohol they bring will cost a lot of money, arguably more than the cost of cleaning up the destruction. But it’s not as simple as that. How do you thoroughly clean a children’s playground of human shit? How many plant killing chemicals are required to make all those surfaces safe? What is required to make people feel safe returning to use those facilities?
The City of Yarra has been forced by legal concerns to do things differently. In recent years it has known there was the potential for large crowds and it was negligent in failing to provide enough lighting, bins and temporary toilets.
It was incompetent in failing to monitor social media for announcements and invites to unauthorised parties using amplified music, and for failing to shut those down as soon as they set up in the gardens. It allowed property it is responsible for managing to be overtaken by thugs and morons who caused significant property damage to fences as well as leaving behind litter and broken glass.
In future it needs to make it clear that, as permits for such activities will not be issued, setting up the relevant equipment will be considered trespassing, the equipment will be confiscated and the offenders removed from the gardens by force if necessary.
The council was also in danger of being sued for failing to manage public safety by allowing a situation to unfold that was so dangerous the Police could not control it and Ambulance staff could not help injured people. If someone has been seriously hurt in there they could have blamed the council and sought compensation.
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I woke yesterday to notice a couple of tweets suggesting that the Astor Cinema would close next year. I’m not surprised. The cinema business has evidently been unviable for many years, even given the reportedly modest rent the cinema currently pays. The building requires expensive maintenance and repairs that the owner cannot afford. He needs to put up the rent, and the cinema can’t afford it and has stated it will vacate the building.
The operator of the cinema, George Florence, seems to get into disputes with all his landlords. He may have a long history as a tenant in the building, but viewing the history of news reports about his business leads the reasonable reader to the conclusion that he has unreasonable expectations and a deluded sense of entitlement about his place in the building. He also sounds like a hypocrite if he now decries a multi-screen renovation when he is on the public record as thinking a sensitive redevelopment, like that of the Rivoli in Camberwell, could be a good idea back in 2007.
Unlike a domestic residential lease, where landlords needs to fix most infrastructure problems, such as blocked toilets, in commercial leases tenants have far more responsibility for infrastructure. What a tenant is responsible for and what the landlord is responsible for is often disputed, especially if the terms of the lease do not provide further clarification.
When I reviewed the recent history of the building and the cinema within it a year ago, it was clear to me that the cinema actually had less certainty about its future based on the circumstances of the building’s new elderly individual owner, a man who lost money on selling the George cinema in St Kilda and who had to sell his home to cover it, than it did when the building was owned by St Michael’s Grammar School, which has a long history in the area, a history of local real estate investment and long terms plans to remain an inner city school.
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I don’t think I’ve seen so many Fitzroy hospitality and retail businesses for sale, or vacant properties for lease, at the same time. These are all in addition to ones I’ve already written about, such as the former Oven pizza, the former convenience store next door, the bike shop and the former Django Django cafe.
On Brunswick St, Polly bar on Brunswick St is currently available. The northern end of Brunswick St is looking shaky – is it a good time to get out? At the opposite end Martha Ray’s cafe is currently listed for sale. Cape Live on the corner of Brunswick and Johnston streets is available. Opposite, the former Kleen, currently Urban Attitude is closing and the property is already listed.
On Smith St, the Panama Dining Room sold recently. The former Soul food (and briefly Hex) cafe is listed. Dr Java cafe on the corner of Smith and Gertrude streets was listed recently. They’ve just had a significant interior facelift. After an aborted closure a few years ago Amor y locura on the western end of Gertrude St is closing for real.
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