Redevelopment plans for Footscray’s Little Saigon remain in limbo two years after fire destroyed the iconic market building.

A fault in an electrical switchboard triggered the December 2016 blaze, that caused more than $12 million in damage as it quickly tore through the ageing building.

Maribyrnong council issued a clean-up notice for the site after rotting vegetables, meat and fish combined with high temperatures to produce a putrid smell soon after the fire.

The remains were demolished and the site has been sitting empty for almost two years.

Its owners were initially confident redevelopment of the site could begin by the end of this year, but without the funds to proceed they are reliant upon finding a joint venture partner willing to bankroll the project.

Maribyrnong council approved plans in 2012 for a new $70 million mixed-use development with markets at ground level topped by parking and 260 apartments in two towers of eight and 12 levels.

Redesigned plans have recently been lodged, but no decision has been made on whether they will be approved.


New designs for the Little Saigon redevelopment. Image supplied

Site co-owner Binh Le told Star Weekly earlier this year that a partner had been found for the development. This week he said negotiations were continuing.

“We have tried to negotiate with the financial companies because we don’t have the necessary money to build,” he said.

“We are trying to get some joint venture or financial support but they have still not decided yet.

“We are hoping we will soon go ahead.”

Council director of planning services Nigel Higgins said the council has issued four extensions of time for the project to proceed, with the last extension due to expire in April 2019.

“An amendment has been made and Council requires further information as part of our decision making process,” he said.