A $244 million blueprint to revamp the former Land Titles Office has been proposed to the state government.
As part of the plan, developers have teamed with The Hellenic Museum to construct a new Greek museum, making Melbourne the first city to house a permanent Benaki Museum outside of Greece.
Also part of the plans are an international exhibition space and 29-storey commercial tower, being built above one of Melbourne’s oldest buildings.
But the plans will first have to win the support of the government and Heritage Victoria. The building is listed on the state register for its architectural and historic significance.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, ISPT chief executive Daryl Browning said the project would revitalise the precinct and restore heritage appeal.
“We believe it’s a really good outcome for the community,’ he said.
Mr Browning said the heritage buildings would house the Hellenic and Benaki museums and be open to the public for the first time.
“For most Melburnians, they’ve never seen inside those buildings because when they held the titles they were very valuable and secure documents,’’ he said.
“So Joe Public would never have seen the titles holding area and we thought that precinct would be revitalised by both the tower and the concept that was sympathetic to the heritage of the old building, but open it up so that Melbourne can experience it brought back to its grandeur.’’
Development of the commercial tower would foot the bill and The Hellenic Museum would be offered a rent-free lease for 50 years.
The former Land Titles Office is one of only two surviving 19th century buildings that extend along a complete Melbourne city block, along with the Supreme Court.
A report to government said the importance of the site to Victoria “requires a particularly creative adaptive reuse solution … that reflects the ever-changing, vibrant and lively contemporary city of Melbourne whilst simultaneously remaining respectful and sympathetic to its heritage value,’’ it said.
If approved, construction is likely commence next year and take up to three years to complete.