The St Kilda Marina

The 50-year lease of the St Kilda Marina ends on 30 April 2019. This presents an opportunity to plan for the marina’s future.

Council is working with a Community Panel and technical experts on an iterative design process exploring future site options. unChain members Trevor White and Geoff Gowers are members of the Panel.

The St Kilda Marina Project Community Panel met for its second full day session on 15 September 2018. The session was designed to explore the ‘big decisions’ that need to be made about the future of the St Kilda Marina to assist in refining the best long-term option for the site. These ‘big decisions’ are also being tested with the broader community in the survey from 21 September to 7 October 2018. You can learn more about the Community Panel’s progress in the session two summary. For more information you can contact the project team via ASSIST on 03 9209 6777 or email

The Spooner family built the St Kilda marina in 1969 and it still holds the 50-year lease through its company, Australian Marinas (A’Asia) Pty Ltd.  The Spooner family is an interesting example of successful Australian entrepreneurs. In 2015, the family ranked 19th on Business Review Weekly’s list of rich Australian families, with a reported wealth of $626 million.

Australian Marinas has invested an estimated $2 million to develop the marina with 200 wet pens and a 250 boat dry storage. Australian Marinas are keen to re-lease the site, and have proposed a redevelopment with additional berths, hotel, office space, car parking and greater public access, including to the existing lighthouse.

Under the current lease the company pays rent to the City of Port Phillip of approximately $160,000 per annum. Council believes that the rent could be raised to over $500,000 even if there was no redevelopment of the site. The rent would be substantially higher if a significant new development was approved. Other parties interested in a long-term lease of the site have already approached Council.

In September 2016 Council resolved to run a competitive process to award a new lease. It is important that Council does not simply award the lease to the highest bidder. There are significant non-financial considerations that should be taken into account. Appropriately, Council has directed its officers to optimise community benefit and provide an appropriate commercial outcome.

It is also important that Council maximises transparency and community involvement. It is encouraging that Council has directed its officers to include extensive community engagement.

The major issue is whether there should be a bridge across the mouth of the marina. This would open up the back of the marina to the public and enable a shared pedestrian/bicycle coastal path along the perimeter of Marina Reserve and the St Kilda marina that would join the existing path south of the marina. The bridge could be an icon.

Some boat owners are opposed to the concept of the bridge and opening up the marina to the public. However, it is legitimate for the Council to develop the marina, not just for the boating community but for the wider public. The legislation controlling the marina is the St. Kilda Land Act 1965. The Act  includes this in the definition of a marina: ‘an area where facilities are provided for … the recreation, comfort and convenience of … members of the public’. So the interests and concerns of the boaties cannot be used to veto developments that are in the general public interest.

Some other issues to consider in drafting the Expression of Interest invitation for the St Kilda marina include:

  1. Expansion of the marina. I understand that when the land was reclaimed to build the existing marina in 1969, the concept was that a second marina, mirroring the first, could be built on the reclaimed land. Should a significant expansion of the marina like this be considered?
  2. Water pollution. I understand that the idea behind the existing marina was that the water pollution would be cleared by tidal action. The outgoing tide would create a whirlpool effect that would flush out the pollution. This has not been successful.
  3. Hard Stand. The marina has a 250-boat capacity hard stand. It is likely that the structure has reached the end of its life. What should be the replacement of the hard stand?
  4. Petrol Station. The petrol station does not service the marina. There are six other petrol stations within 3 kilometers. Removing the petrol station at the marina would allow an expansion of other foreshore-related buildings without a net loss of public open space.
  5. Harbour Village. Tenderers may be interested in a harbor village with a hotel, restaurant and foreshore-related retail. What is the acceptable level?
  6. Public benefits – Brookes Jetty. Should the project invite tenderers to consider funding a replacement recreational structure as envisaged in the St Kilda Foreshore Urban Design Framework?
  7. Public Benefits – the weather station. Should the project invite tenderers to consider relocating the weather station at the Marina-Reserve. This would open up the north-west corner of the Reserve to the public, for example by constructing a look-out tower.