I have lived in Avondale Heights about 19 years now. I like it – and whilst I am not particularly Italian, I feel comfortable living in the most Italian suburb in Australia (20% of people here claim Italian descent – compared to 3% in Australia and 4% in Victoria overall).
Just over the Canning Street bridge to the east is the Maribyrnong Explosives Factory site. This is a 124 hectare location which takes up a very large part of the suburb of Maribyrnong. Until 30 years ago, Maribyrnong and surrounds hosted three major Defence factories – the Footscray Ammunition Factory which is now Edgewater, the Maribyrnong Ordnance Factory which is is the weirdly named Waterford Green, and the Explosives Factory.
The Explosives Factory has been closed for a very long time, and I was reading in the Herald Sun early last week about the lack of progress on developing the site. As it turns out, the Federal Government starting talking about redeveloping it as a new residential suburb around 19 years ago, when I moved here (FYI, I used to live in an upper level flat opposite that site on the eastern side in Maribyrnong).
After 19 years of prevarication where are we? It will be at least another 2 years before that site’s fate is decided and development may start.
One of the big problems is that it is hugely contaminated by all sorts of heavy metals and chemicals from decades of explosives production. Cleaning that up is not going to be easy.
There are also a lot of annoying heritage overlays over the site. Apparently run down factories which have been abandoned for decades have important value as part of our industrial history, rather than being easy targets for a bulldozer.
During the time that I have watched and waited for the development of the site, the number of residences on it has increased considerably – they are now talking about 3,300 residences and 6,600 people – which is double what they were talking about originally.
Given that I hate congestion and crowding, especially on the buses and trams that I take which may come to gain many more passengers on the Cordite Avenue stops than they do now, I am happy for the development to be delayed much much longer, say, another 19 years?
But I doubt that will happen. Wests Road, which runs south from that site, is now bookended by two high rise apartment towers. I expect that the warehouses along Raleigh Road south of the factory site will also turn into high rise towers in the coming years, extending Maribyrnong’s skyline.
If decontaminating the explosives site is too expensive and takes too long, I fully expect that instead of low rise housing, we will see much taller high rise apartment towers built on that site (hopefully leaving most of the mature trees extant).