A troubled Victorian heritage pub is again under threat as local stakeholders refuse to compromise on making its restoration commercially viable.
The Mentone Hotel – colloquially known as ‘The Edgy’ due to its former moniker of the Edgewater Hotel – closed in late 2014 when no new operator could be found. Built 1887, it is the last of the historic hospitality structures on Mentone’s Bayside strip, in Melbourne’s southern suburbs.
It was purchased by Paul Huggins, who proposed plans for 70 modern apartments and a four-storey building adjoining the large-format hotel, with a revived pub and new restaurant on ground level.
But local Councillor David Eden and Member for Isaacs Mark Dreyfus have come out against the new construction, citing its conflict with the local two-storey residential height limit and feelings it would be out of character for the area.
Eden has launched a campaign against the development, calling on locals to oppose the plans he believes will set a precedent in Mentone.
The grass roots movement that sprung up last year attempting to ‘Save The Edgy’ is also opposed – but instead because the new structure would not dedicate enough area to public offering.
Caught between, Huggins says the only way to revive the old pub is through the mixed-use proposal.
“It doesn’t work with two levels,” Huggins told the Herald Sun. “No-one in the public would benefit from that.”
Huggins makes the case that the Hotel is “State significant and heritage-protected” and will not serve as a precedent, labelling Eden’s campaign a “vote-grab, with the election coming up”.
Heritage Victoria has already endorsed the four-storey development concept, as did Kingston council.
The plans will go before the Kingston Council Planning Committee on 18 May and if successful will be passed on to State planning minister Richard Wynne to begin the Planning Scheme Amendment process. From there the plans will go on public display for a month to allow community feedback.
This would likely incite response from the 10,000-strong Save The Edgy movement, which states that a redevelopment must dedicate a large portion to the community.
“The planning minister is on the record saying that developers must provide public amenity when making large residential applications — the current plan does not meet that test,” says Save The Edgy spokesperson Clarke Martin.