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Last week’s announcement that Fitzroy Street will be the home of a new $38 million Pride Centre is nothing short of a game changer for a street searching for a new positive identity.
Locals know that Fitzroy Street has a colourful past but an uncertain future. Questions about The Gatwick Hotel, numerous commercial vacancies and perceptions of anti-social behaviour have left the street without a positive story.
But the dynamic is changing before our eyes. The injection of State and council money into the Pride Centre will be the lift that the street is craving.
This is bold thinking and action. By backing their community with cash for a cultural investment, the decision makers have locked in a renewable and sustainable flow of benefits.
Think about this, the Centre is likely to house a number of key LGBTIQ organisations, making it a hub for staff, activists and visitors. Their regular attendance will flow on in a multitude of ways to the local economy – not only cafes, but creatives, retail and services. The council has estimated the eco benefit at $46 million over 20 years. But it could be more if you factor in intangible value of diversity and identity.
Importantly the Pride Centre underscores one of the Fitzroy Streets (and St Kilda’s) long term characteristics – diversity, tolerance and creativity. The Pride Centre reinforces the diversity of St Kilda’s seaside playground heritage.
As the local newspaper said, it’s a matter of pride and joy.
STOP PRESS: It’s almost confirmed that The Block will transform the Gatwick Hotel in 2018. Interestingly, The Gatwick is almost directly opposite the site of the Pride Centre (the former Monroe’s restaurant). Here’s a suggestion, lay down the challenge to The Block to include some social housing in their transformation – could be interesting.