One of Melbourne’s largest food and bar venues has been flagged for Footscray’s riverbank.
‘Welcome to Footscray’, a 750-patron licensed “community food hall” featuring a permanent bar and a rotating roster of food trucks, is planned for the vast 1100-square-metre ground level of The Dream Factory, previously home to Lonely Planet.
The building’s 720-square-metre rooftop terrace could also open as a 230-patron venue for events such as festivals, weddings and rooftop cinema.
The venture is loosely based upon, and backed by the team behind, the popular Welcome to Thornbury bar and food truck stop and other Melbourne food venues the Brunswick Mess Hall, Homeslice, Fancy Hanks and Mr Burger.
The Dream Factory general manager James Fitzgerald said the venue would be filled with greenery and have four or five food trucks each day from late afternoon into the evening.
Mr Fitzgerald said he planned to open Welcome to Footscray in The Dream Factory by next February, pending council approval.
“We’ve always had a vision for this building of activating that bottom part,” he said. “I think the council shares this vision for activating this area.”
The community food hall, designed by Technē Architecture + Interior Design, would replicate the food truck park concept but be “more sophisticated” than Welcome to Thornbury.
“There will be the Mr Burgers, but we also want the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in there, we want these other food start-ups in Footscray,” Mr Fitzgerald said.
“You can see in Yarraville Gardens the local community really loves that concept of these food trucks, but obviously there has been some contention around the trucks in the park.”
Mr Fitzgerald said the western suburbs had been crying out for community-focused food and beverage locations, and he wants to “dispel that myth that food trucks are about people coming and trashing the joint”.
“It’s about people coming together, a community feeling proud about a space. The beauty of it is that we will create a beautiful space, open and with a greenery focus.”
A planning report lodged with Maribyrnong council notes the area’s non-residential zoning “eliminates amenity impacts” associated with licensed venues.
An emergency evacuation plan will be developed to deal with the property’s proximity to the Coode Island petrochemical storage facility.
Mr Fitzgerald said building owner Impact Investment Group wanted a collaborative approach and would work with neighbours to ensure the project runs smoothly.
“I’m a committed local, my family’s been here for 60 years, I love Footscray. We’ve got a big local focus.”
A 10 per cent slice of the venture’s earnings will be made available to local design, tech and social change businesses via a special Footscray Future Fund.