New $60m urban park to transform Prahran

Press Release | 20 March 2017

European-style plaza with underground parking to rival Federation Square

The City of Stonnington today announced construction of a landmark new public urban park and two-level underground car park creating a vibrant cultural heart for residents, traders and visitors. The visionary project will provide a legacy to the community for generations to come.

At over 9,000m² Cato Square, located near the corner of Chapel Street and Commercial Road, the project is modelled off some of the world’s most famous urban plazas and covers an area almost as large as Federation Square.

The new open air plaza will feature nine distinctive zones including a central square with water feature, garden, forest and lawns at ground level. Below ground, replacing the current car park bounded by Cato, Izett, Wattle and Chatham Streets, will be a modern two-level parking centre complete with travellators, extensive security and amenities.

When completed in 2019, Cato Square will provide urgently needed open space for passive recreation, events and festivals in Prahran. It will also provide 20 per cent more car spaces for shoppers and retailers in the surrounding Chapel and Greville Street precincts.

City of Stonnington Mayor, Cr Jami Klisaris, said Cato Square would set a new benchmark for innovative reclamation of urban open space in Australia.

“The Cato Square project is the largest, most ambitious and exciting construction project ever delivered in the City of Stonnington.

“Cato Square will become an iconic cultural and recreational destination for residents, traders, shoppers and visitors to Stonnington, with spaces for quiet contemplation or vibrant community events.”

Cr Klisaris said the project was conceived as long as 10 years ago but was also identified in the Chapel Street Masterplan of 2013. Construction will commence on the Cato Street site later this year and is expected to take approximately 18 months.

City of Stonnington CEO Mr Warren Roberts, said the $60 million project was fully funded.

“Cato Square will be paid for by Council over successive years and will use a mixture of open space contributions, Council funds and borrowings. The project is accommodated within the State Government rate cap.

“When completed, we anticipate Cato Square will operate on a cost-neutral basis, ensuring residents can enjoy all the benefits without ongoing costs to Council,” Mr Roberts said.

Mayor Klisaris said Cato Square was a key plank in Council’s strategic open space policy – Strategies for Creating Open Space.

 “The City of Stonnington has the second lowest amount of open space per capita in Victoria. As our population is expected to increase by 30,000 people over the next 15 years, creating more open space now is vital to protecting our community’s future liveability.”

“Cato Square builds on Council’s long-standing commitment to the environment and will implement a broad range of holistic environmental and sustainability initiatives. The design, by Lyons Architects, features energy-efficiency measures including energy-efficient (LED) lighting, high performance thermal, building fabric and glazing. Solar PV, water and storm water capture and management, and urban ecology features will be key outcomes of the project,” she said.

Council is also applying leading-edge sustainability design and construction techniques. Council has used the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design or "CPTED" (pronounced sep-ted) approach that takes into account the relationship between the physical environment and the users of that environment. This approach illustrates Council’s strong focus on security and preventing anti-social behaviour.

“Cato Square has been created with public safety in mind, including open spaces designed to deter anti-social behaviour,” said Cr Klisaris. 

Community engagement period

Following the official launch of the project on 21 March, Council will conduct a seven-week community engagement process to seek feedback and input on key aspects and features of the project. The consultation period, which runs across March, April and into May, will include a series of public forums, use of the online engagement platform Connect Stonnington and stakeholder briefings.

A dedicated Cato Square Information Hub, located in Izett Street directly opposite the current car park, will operate for the duration of construction, providing project updates, plans and information for traders, residents and visitors.

Cr Klisaris said, “Over the coming months Council will be engaging widely with nearby traders, residents and property owners. We welcome their input and are excited to share details of this important project. We will be communicating regularly with those most impacted by the project throughout the construction period.”

For more information visit stonnington.vic.gov.au/catosquare