Lighting up Chinatown as visitors start to return

The City of Melbourne will commence installing 80 new permanent red and gold lanterns in Chinatown this month to brighten the precinct and celebrate its cultural character as COVID-19 restrictions lift and visitors return.

​Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the lanterns will adorn Little Bourke Street from Swanston Street to Exhibition Street.

“Chinatown has been an important part of our city since the gold rush days of the 1850s, and Melbourne’s Chinatown is the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the western world,” the Lord Mayor said.

“We’re upgrading the lanterns to enhance the unique character of the area and encourage people back to support local traders.

“With the careful easing of restrictions, we’re finally able to come in and sit down for a bowl of piping hot noodles and plates of delicious dumplings. We want to extend that warm and welcoming atmosphere outside with these striking lanterns bathing the precinct in soft, warm light.

“The lanterns have been custom-made with laser-cut stainless steel that is powder-coated in ‘luminous red’ paint and will be a lovely permanent feature of the precinct.

“While many Chinatown precincts around the world use cloth lanterns that need to be replaced regularly, these new lanterns have a life cycle of 25 years and will only require minor maintenance making them a much more sustainable and durable option.”

Prosperous City portfolio Chair Councillor Kevin Louey said extensive consultation had been sought with the Chinatown Precinct Association.

“We’ve worked with the Chinatown Precinct Association to create a design that is both attractive and resilient to weather conditions,” Cr Louey said.

“We installed two lanterns at the corner of Heffernan Lane and Little Bourke Street in May so we could test the design and seek feedback from local traders and the precinct association.

“COVID-19 has shown how much we all rely on each other, especially our local shopkeepers. Our bricks and mortar stores need support as restrictions are eased.

“With international travel restrictions expected to remain in place for some time, we need to boost our precincts with local support.

“We are providing up to $75,000 in funding to each of our recognised precinct associations so they can support members with business development and precinct activations.”

This funding is part of City of Melbourne’s $50 million COVID-19 Recovery Package as part of the 2020-21 Draft Annual Plan and Budget.

“We are collaborating with precincts to boost marketing and encourage people back safely as restrictions ease,” Cr Louey said.

The installation of the permanent lanterns will be completed by the end of July.

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