The City of Stonnington has unveiled its plan for what it’s calling Cato Square, a new, $60 million European- and US-inspired plaza. The site is bounded by Cato, Wattle, Chatham and Izett Streets in Prahran.

The new plaza will replace the 9000-square-metre Cato Street car park with a two-level landmark in one of Melbourne’s most crowded areas. The ground level will have nine "open-air zones" including a central square with a water feature; a garden; lawns; and a "mini forest". Underground will be a secure car park with more than 500 spaces – an increase of 100 spaces above current capacity.

Award-winning Australian architectural firm Lyons, responsible for the RMIT Academic building on Swanston Street, will design the new project.

The square is scheduled for completion in 2019 and it will be used for events and festivals in Prahran. But most importantly, it will offer the area some much-needed open space.

“As Stonnington’s population is expected to increase by 30,000 people over the next 15 years, creating more open space now is vital to protecting our community’s future liveability,” Stonnington Mayor Jami Klisaris said.

For further enquiries contact the Stonnington Council, public consultation begins 21 March and will run for seven weeks.