A PROMINENT businessman has called for the Civic Hall site to become Ballarat’s Federation Square.
John Harris of Mitchell Harris Wine Bar said it would be a fantastic opportunity to create a public community space if the hall was demolished.
“I don’t like seeing any building, particularly if it has heritage value, being destroyed,” Mr Harris said.
“But from what I understand this building is almost not worth salvaging, or at least not without great cost.
“This would be a fantastic option to create another public space for events and the uses the Civic Hall hosted in the past, such as a live music venue.”
Mr Harris said it could become a site of community, youth and recreational events.
“It could be Ballarat’s own version of Fed Square,” he said.
Mr Harris’ comments were backed by Haida Bar owner Tony Henderson, who said it was a shame Ballarat had a problem with “old money, old mentality”.
“Bendigo has been so forward thinking in terms of inner-city development,” Mr Henderson said.
“We could learn from that.”
He said the Civic Hall site was a vital piece of land and real estate that could be developed for a business and community centre.
However, he said part of the current facade could be kept in any new design.
“But the rest of it has had its day and Ballarat needs to move on from that.”
Mr Henderson said he was constantly frustrated by watching progress and ideas in other cities, while Ballarat’s city centre was struggling, with many vacant shops.
“They (Ballarat City Council) have hit shop top living on the head and we are being strictly governed by heritage overlays while other cities with heritage buildings are still progressing,” he said.