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Prahran's Cato Car Park to be Transformed Into a $60 Million Urban Park

It's set to be the Federation Square of the inner east.

Plans for Melbourne's newest openair plaza, officially named Cato Square, were released by the City of Stonnington over the weekend. The $60 million, 'European-style' project will be located on the site of Prahran's old Cato Street car park just behind the Coles on Chapel Street, turning it into an urban oasis.

The plaza, said to be ten years in the making, is planned to be nearly the size of Federation Square at a huge 9000 square metres. "This public area is most importantly going to provide open space and recreation for the residents who are living in tight spaces and in dense apartment buildings," City of Stonnington Mayor Jami Klisaris told Concrete Playground.

The elaborate plans reveal nine outdoor zones which will include 'themed' green zones, a central square with a water feature and free public Wi-Fi, dining spaces and a small forest. Seriously. The lawn, which Cr Klisaris says is her favourite element of the plaza, will be especially useful for public events, festivals and performances. "The lawn will not only be an open grass area that can be used by everyone, but will also be flexible with moving furniture and potted trees, so we can change the space and accommodate for any vibe or event," says Klisaris.

To replace the existing parking, two underground levels consisting of 500 spaces will be built beneath the plaza, resulting in 20 percent more parking than was previously available. This transformation from drab car supermarket parking lot to public park will significantly up the green space in the Chapel Street surrounds. "This green space is particularly important because we have the second lowest amount of open space (per capita) of all councils in Victoria," says Cr Klisaris.

The plaza's construction will also focus on environmental factors, using sustainably sourced, recyclable and energy efficient materials in the building process. For concerned taxpayers, the project will be funded by a combination of developer contributions, council funds and borrowings.

Construction is expected to begin in the next 18 months and is due for completion in 2019; it is being designed by Australian architectural firm Lyons, who won the tender last year. The site is bounded by Prahran's Cato, Izett, Wattle and Chatham streets, so parking and surrounding businesses will be affected during this time frame.

Published on March 21, 2017 by Marissa Ciampi

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