Gateway to latent demand

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Springvale Central, centre of the business precinct

The Greater Dandenong City Council is yet again divided over the contentious proposal to build an Asian gateway leading into the Springvale business precinct.

The gateway project, funded by the council, Springvale Asian Business Association (SABA) and the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship (OMAC), intends to boost local business and improve the overall appearance of Springvale. It attracted a post-tender estimate of between $945,000 to over $1 million, almost triple the initial approximation of $287,000 to $342,000.

Despite the amplified cost, Cr Sean O’Reilly believes that the proposed structure may be beneficial in attracting “latent demand” into Springvale by enticing more visitors into the area and promoting local businesses.

“The gateway is a decorative thing that might just help with the shopping experience,” said Cr O’Reilly. “Businesses, particularly in the City of Greater Dandenong, pays a much higher portion of rates than residents.

“Business deserves some attention and some money spent on them, on their interests.”

Commercial properties in the City of Greater Dandenong pay about 15 per cent more in cents per dollar for council rates than residential properties. Local business owner, Hoac Tang, whose store is located less than 100 metres away from the proposed gateway, agrees that with the high commercial rates contribution, the council should be doing more to stimulate local business.

Mr Tang said, “Every little bit helps. Maybe people will want to come to Springvale to have a look at (the gateway) and will stay to shop around.”

In order to control the cost of the proposed gateway, the council has recently approved sending a delegation to China to assess the costs of sourcing materials from overseas. Even with the savings that come with obtaining supplies from China, a gap may still remain between the approved funds and actual cost of the project.

Cr O’Reilly said that if additional funding is required, it “may or may not… have to come out of future money for Springvale” depending on the recommendations made by the council executives. He also added that council needed to “keep tabs” on spending between suburbs within its jurisdiction, “(spending between suburbs) shouldn’t be treated as silos, sectioned off.”

The gateway has also come under fire in the past for its design being too narrow in representing the diverse ethnicity that exists in Springvale when the design was initially revealed in 2010.

“It should satisfy all sides but what it could also end up being is a compromised design,” said Cr O’Reilly. “It’s always a balance. If you try to satisfy everybody, you’ll get nowhere.”

The future of the Springvale Asian Gateway Project now depends on the report from the council officers sent to China and subsequent debates in council.

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