September 21

Chapel St revamp

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram After 25 years of campaigning, Jim Pothitos’ ambitions for Chapel Street – Melbourne’s iconic retail strip – are finally coming true. The long-fought crusade led by Mr Pothitos, president of the Chapel Street Precinct Association, to reinvigorate the street where he began his own business – the Greek Deli and Taverna – more than 30 years ago, has borne ripe fruit, with the publishing of an ambitious 10-year master plan that is set to transform the area. The Rediscover Chapel Street plan – produced by consultants for Stonnington Council – was created in close consultation with the Association, local residents and other stakeholders. Turning side-streets into pedestrian-friendly thoroughfares, redesigning major intersections, introducing ‘pause points’, ‘greening’ the pavements and establishing regular markets are just some of the ingredients in a radical re-interpretation of the historic street celebrated for its rich retail offerings. The sweeping proposal includes a ferry service along the Yarra River to bring shoppers from the city directly to the strip along with a $1.8 million plaza in Windsor. With the precinct’s credentials in decline over recent years due to neglected infrastructure, a sluggish retail economy and high rents, the traders’ association led by Mr Pothitos has been at the forefront of the campaign to revitalise the area. Last year Stonnington approved over $6 million to to upgrade the precinct after repeated requests from the traders’ association encouraging the council to act. The master plan will now steer major infrastructure improvements along the 3.5km shopping hub for at least a decade. Jim Pothitos had a spring in his step when he shared his reactions to the plan with Neos Kosmos. “I’m very proud of the success we’ve had with the council,” said the sprightly 67-year-old. “We’re very excited. This will be like the phoenix rising from the ashes. “It incorporates most of what we’ve been asking for, and goes in some cases a lot further.” Mr Pothitos paid tribute to Stonnington mayor Matthew Koce for his backing of the project. “He’s young, energetic, and a go-getter. The council’s officers have also been very co-operative – which has been a breath of fresh air,” said the Precinct Association president, who added: “we’re not going to rest on our laurels, we’ll keep lobbying to ensure this plan is implemented and developed further.” Jim Pothitos was awarded the first licence to operate a sidewalk cafe on Chapel Street in the early 1980s and the first restaurateur to establish ‘european-style’ outdoor tables. He was told it would never catch on.last_img read more