CERES’ Board update on the Association’s actions to redevelop the café site within the village precinct of the park.
In July 2013, the CERES Board took the decision to close the café and redevelop the facility to serve the community and the Association better. A number of factors influenced this decision, including: growing demand on the café exceeding capacity of the existing venue; the poor state of the building; and poor financial performance of the café over several years.
With the aim of reinvigorating the old café site in a way that was consistent with CERES’ mission and would contribute a stable financial return to the Association, the 2013 Board resolved to partner with a like-minded tenant who would sublease the café and co-invest in the fit-out of the planned new building. A selective expression of interest process was conducted from July to October 2013 and Hay Events Pty Ltd was identified as the preferred tenant.
Since that time, the project has experienced a number of set-backs. These include: long delays relating to confirmation of the location of the Melbourne Water sewerage easement and sewerage pipes in the vicinity of the cafe building; site constraints and budget limitations resulting in design compromises that were unacceptable to the CERES Board; and Hay Events Pty Ltd withdrawing their expression of interest. For all of these reasons, the café development will no longer proceed as originally envisioned. Some concerns have been raised within the Board about community engagement in the previous process. This will be taken into account in our future actions.
While the village café redevelopment is proving complex, the 2015 Board is optimistic about the great opportunity the Association has to reinvigorate this part of the park. We are now reviewing the Association’s options and have approved minor works to the existing structure so that the site can be used by the community during this time. CERES also continues to offer delicious eating options seven days a week at the Merri Table café and the market coffee hub.
Over the coming three months, the Board will:
* Commit to a set of principles that will guide our decision-making about the development;
* Gather information from members and the wider community about your use of the space via surveys of members and site users; and
* Involve CERES members and interested others in co-creating an inspiring new space for all to enjoy.
Thank you for your patience and we look forward to your further involvement as we progress next steps.