Melbourne is famous in urbanist circles for the revitalization of its central area. In 1992, 40% of the buildings were empty above the first floor and only 5 (yes five) residents actually lived in the core. Everyone had fled to the suburbs and the city had hollowed out.
Today, there are over 29,000 residents in the central area and Melbourne has become revered around the world for its vibrant public spaces and innovative laneway repurposing.
What is clear from the video is that it took a lot of work convincing property owners and getting them to buy into the vision. Being able to repurpose the laneways often meant punching through blank walls at the base of buildings. And so there was pushback.
Here in Toronto I’ve heard people say that we’re not Melbourne and we shouldn’t expect to have similar kinds of urban spaces. Well guess what, neither was Melbourne in the 1980s and 1990s. It was a dying city. But they made it happen.