On Wednesday last week, work began on construction of the Melbourne Metro Rail tunnel and Domain underground station. The project has closed a section of Domain Road near St Kilda Road for up to five years.
Despite the fact the closure affects just one end of the South Yarra thoroughfare – roughly 250 metres – news headlines proclaimed Domain Road closed without that disclaimer, leading many readers to believe that the five-year hiatus would affect the entire street.
This has left retail and hospitality businesses on the strip, which runs alongside the Royal Botanic Gardens, reeling.
“Our major concern is that the wrong message is going out,” says Jamie McBride, who owns Gilson and is president of the Domain Road Village’s trade association. “Language in the media suggests people should expect heavy construction, traffic and mass road closures, when in fact none of this is true. Domain Village remains easily accessed despite a short detour via Toorak Road West.
“We need to scream from the top of our lungs that we’re open for business.”
More than a dozen hospitality and retail businesses are located within the stretch of road between Park and Domain streets, which begins roughly 300 metres from the construction zone.
Michael Bacash, owner of the longstanding Bacash seafood restaurant, says the Metro Rail Authority has made no effort to rectify its messaging regarding the closure.
“We are yet to see the Metro Rail Authority get on the front foot and protect our businesses,” Bacash says. “The margins are so small in hospitality that a 10 per cent downfall for a business can be extremely hard.”
“Although there has been some miscommunication in the media around the road closure we are confident that our loyal customers will continue to visit their favourite local,” says Peter Baker, general manager of The Botanical, a Domain Road fixture. “There are plenty of reasons to stop by – even if the tram no longer stops right outside, the new route is only a few minutes’ walk away.”
For more information visit the Metro Tunnel website.