The land now known as the St Kilda Triangle was once shrubland, lagoons, dunes and swamps. For its traditional owners, the Yalukit Willam clan of the Kulin Nation, the St Kilda Triangle was part of an area called Euroe Yroke.
After European settlement, St Kilda became a bustling seaside suburb, and the Triangle site functioned as a recreational space for generations of Melburnians.
1860s: St Kilda’s transformation
St Kilda became a municipality in 1857, and in the same year a railway line was built to connect it to Melbourne’s CBD. Regular train services resulted in increased visitors to St Kilda’s sea baths, jetty promenade, cricket and bowling clubs, and the St Kilda Cup. By the mid-1860s, St Kilda boasted about 15 residential hotels, including the famous George Hotel.
Between 1870 and 1890, St Kilda’s population more than doubled to around 19,000 people. During the land boom of the 1880s, it became a densely populated district of large stone mansions and palatial hotels, particularly along seaside streets such as Fitzroy Street, Grey Street and Acland Street.
1900s: A Mediterranean-style resort
After the opening of the cable tramway in 1891, the St Kilda Foreshore Committee was formed as a government endeavour to beautify the area.
Carlo Catani was contracted to prepare a masterplan for St Kilda’s beautification, from the foreshore to Point Ormond. Catani created a famous leisure precinct along the bay, inspired by seaside resorts in the Mediterranean. Notable features included the Sea Baths (1910), Luna Park (1912), Palais de Danse I (1913), Palais de Danse II (1926), Palais Theatre (1927), and many others. Several landmarks along the foreshore have been named after Catani, including the clock tower, gardens and arch.
1970s-2000s: Fire and development proposal
Palais de Danse III opened on the Triangle site in 1972, and was later renamed Palace Entertainment Centre. Destroyed by fire in 2007, a masterplan was later approved by Council incorporating repairs to the Palais Theatre and a redevelopment of the Triangle site. The plan was abandoned in 2009 following strong community opposition.
2010-12: Towards a new vision
Council initiated a process to develop a new vision for the St Kilda Triangle in 2010, conducting extensive community consultation through drop-in sessions, surveys, vox pops, focus groups, round table conversations and online engagement. Over 900 people helped inform the Vision document, which was released in November 2011. This led to the preparation of St Kilda Triangle 2012, colloquially known as the ‘orange document’. It was adopted by Council in August 2012.
A planning scheme amendment was prepared to implement St Kilda Triangle 2012. However, following community questions about the controls and unresolved issues in St Kilda Triangle 2012, Council decided in July 2013 to consider the controls at a future date.
2014-present: The St Kilda Triangle project
In August 2014, Council resolved to deliver a project for the St Kilda Triangle site with the community. Parameters for the Triangle site were developed through working group meetings with community members, content experts, Councillors and officers. This informed the framework for a co-design process and led to the development of the Masterplan.