Could West Footscray eventually rival Footscray proper – not only in residential terms but also in terms of commercial activity and what I’ll simply call buzz?
I’ve been pondering this for a few weeks, spurred on by a couple of stories written by my Star Weekly colleague Benjamin Millar.
The first concerned the 501 Receptions site on Barkly Street.
When the news broke almost a year ago the paperwork was in on an attempt to get permission to build almost 200 apartments on the site, the general understanding was it was the reception centre owner who was going to do the developing.
Now, as Ben reports, the site is on the market.
The second story concerned the revamp that is going to happen at West Footscray station to accommodate the Melbourne Metro rail project.
And never mind that the station could hardly be more shiny or new as it is!
That, I reckon, makes the mostly vacant land at the CBD end of the station (top photograph) area very valuable, strategically and otherwise.
The land, owned by VicTrack, is home to the Western Emergency Relief Network and the fine people who sail in her.
Right across the road, the building and land that once housed a motor mechanic outfit, has a for sale sign out front.
It lists among the property’s virtues town planning permits for a “4 level complex comprising 30 apartments and 2 shops”.
Right next door to that is Potters House church.
One whisper I’ve heard is that rezoning efforts are being made for this land.
Maybe some residential development is in the longer term future there.
But my understanding is that the church, on a site that was once a sugar factory, has a lease that has about five years to run.
Banbury Village, meanwhile, is seeming more like a regular part of the neighbourhood rather than the closed-off bubble it has seemed for several years.
This is because there are now a number of village roads fully connecting to surrounding streets such as Barkly, Cross and Warleigh.
Switching our gaze to the other side of railway tracks …
I’ve been told the reason there’s a monster hardware store there is because there are toxic soil concerns for much of the land in the area, rendering it unsuitable for housing.
The means the area bounded by the Geelong Road, Geelong Street and Sunshine Road will presumably stay as a home to some fairly gnarly industrial undertakings – rubber, iron and paint among them.
Another whisper I’ve heard is that the council is keen on preserving the jobs capacity of the properties on Sunshine Road from the bus depot up to the wool stores.
One of the wool stores, the one that runs parallell to Roberts Street, is used for I know not what – but when I choose that route to get to work there are always many, very large trucks coming and going.
The other wool store is being used as storage depot/warehouse for Dimmey’s and the associated import/export business, Starite.
Beyond there is a surprisingly large amount of residential neighbourhoods about which it is easy to forget.
A lot of the older houses in this area – bounded by Sunshine and Paramount roads and Stony Creek – were built after World War II by a developer named Hansen, using many recycled materials because of war-time shortages.
His company name and/or motto is still emblazoned on one the Tottenham shops – the one that housed a sub-continental grocery for a few years.
I learn the above information from Evan, who I meet when step foot – for the first time – into the Tottenham mobility scooter shop.
Actually, Evan runs three business on the premises – Mr Mobility, Hamilton Street Antiques and Mr Mannequins.
If I had been previously aware of these diverse enterprises, it was only very dimly.
So I am knocked out the range of old stuff Evan has in here – this is easily the most impressive antique/vintage shop I’ve seen in the western suburbs.
The antique side of the business is named after Hamilton Street in Yarraville, where Evan was located before moving to the Tottenham shops 25 years ago.
In the course of good old chinwag, Evan tells me the bottom has fallen out of the antique biz, mostly – he reckons – because of Ebay.
As well as many houses in the streets behind the Tottenham shops, there is a very big vacant lot – on Cala Street, right next to Opera Australia Props & Scenery Hire.
But perhaps there are soil issues there, too?
Great article Kenny 🙂 Very interesting re the shops in Tottenham. Some of them look decidedly dodgy but good to know there is a quirky beating heart behind some of them.
Talking of Wefo on the move, there’s also this:
And they have even registered the wefo.com.au domain name.
Wow that’s v interesting! Do you know who is involved or have you heard any whispers? I wonder what their game is? If it’s to monetise or use the WeFo “brand” for commercial reasons, I can imaging there would be some resistance – and there’s fully vibrant FB pages already running. I posted links to this story on two of them!
I know nothing about them other than what I’ve seen on their Instagram, which I got onto by a link someone put on Twitter. I think the place is on the side street adjacent to the paint shop, at the west end of the main Barkly strip.
Yeah I also thought it was a big call to co-opt a suburb’s name into the cafe’s brand! Especially registering the domain. Hopefully the owners have local links, but still…
Oh, it’s a cafe then! I thought it was some sort of WeFo-in-general page/site/whatever! I’m still not sure it’s that cool, though. And with a name like, they’d want to be really, really on their game in all departments! Otherwise the snide jokes will surely flow …
I may have jumped the gun in assuming it’s a cafe, as that is not explicitly stated. I assumed it based on the number of food pics they were referencing on Instagram. It’s certainly some sort of shopfront they are building, looking at the 2 most recent pics on the Insta feed.
Yes there’s reno/fit-out pics.
Perhaps wishful thinking , but if some of the contaminated land could be used as public open space rather than more big box stores it would be fantastic .
Wouldn’t rely on MCC , though, on past performance , they will go for rates income every time .
Right on Tony Wood – it would be wonderful if that land were turned into parkland with large shade trees – definitely need more here in the west,
On the topic of WeFo “The business”. The term was originally coined by Lauren Wambach from Footscray Food Blog. Our business, Post Industrial Design, loved the term. We thought it a fabulous tongue in cheek pun . . like yeah, we are the new Soho. In 2012 we held an event the “Wefo Resistance”. From there the term grew. People embraced the term as their own. We have put considerable time and resources in promoting the term as we saw it a way of promoting the area. We got cushions ‘wefo cool’ made and did our best to promote Wefo. Never did we claim to own the term. It was always a term used to promote West Footscray as a whole – our beloved neighbourhood. A term intended to generate a sense of pride and ownership of our suburb. I NEVER envisaged anyone would take that term for a business. Please do not get me wrong I LOVE innovation and new business coming to the area. Bring it on! It benefits all. My issue is WeFo belongs to the people and not one individual business. I cannot help but feel a little upset by this. What started in good will and should belong to everyone, has now been taken by someone for their own commercial purposes . . . Not cool!
Wonderful article. I’ve lived in west footscray for most of my 46 years and love the so-called “gentrification” because the alternative is the west footscray of the 70s and 80s – I wouldn’t dare go to Totty station, got bashed by school bullies, and just generally dreaded the streets. If this is what gentrification looks like here, then bring it on. In terms of the “Wefo” cafe, they are apparently locals who live on Argyle Street. They’re super smart in taking the “Wefo” name, but will certainly create a tonne of bad blood. Oh, I LOVE the Woolstore building and the old Hanson Homes sign. I remember talking to a woman on a Wefo backroad years ago who was around when the area was an orchard. We grew potatoes in Wefo, you guys!