LOCALS BLAME THE ICE EPIDEMIC FOR THE CLOSURE OF GATWICK HOTEL
The infamous Gatwick Hotel is set to close its doors for the last time this weekend.
Fitzroy Street is one of Melbourne’s prime locations; efficient transport into the CBD, wide footpaths for outdoor dining and seafront views. So why is the retail hotspot struggling to keep the doors open?
Clusters of vacant retail shops surrounding Gatwick Hotel (Photo: Greta Waters)
Fitzroy Street local and 62-year restaurant owner of Leo’s Spaghetti Bar shows no sympathy for the soon-to-be displaced residents.
Leo said yesterday that the issue is much deeper than shutting down the hotel notorious for housing some of Melbourne’s most vulnerable.
“The Gatwick houses the disadvantaged, mentally ill and criminal offenders. We need to stop pretending that it [Gatwick Hotel] is helping them,” Leo said.
“I have watched decade after decade the behaviour of these people, it has always come in bearable waves. Everything changed four or five years ago with the increasing prevalence of ice on our streets.”
On Saturday night a glass door at the front of Leo’s Spaghetti Bar was aggressively damaged. The perpetrator was caught on CCTV and police later revealed high on ice.
Leo’s shopfront violently vandalised by a Gatwick regular high on ice (Photo: Greta Waters)
“I don’t want him to get arrested. But I am not going to support a cause that tolerates continuous destructive behaviour,” Leo said.
MP Martin Foley argued the installation of CCTV cameras along Fitzroy Street would minimise crime.
St Kilda local Ree Gleeson has been avoiding the Gatwick vicinity for over 20 years due to fear of antisocial behaviour.
“I would never walk on that side of the road if I am walking along Fitzroy Street,” Gleeson said.
“I hope when all the residents have been relocated somewhere else that shops can start thriving again.
“It is a dry zone of shops… no business can survive in that vicinity because everyone is too scared to be there.
“Everything gets vandalised and there is a huge amount of violence.”
A letter was sent to Gatwick tenants on 6 March 2017 explaining the process had begun with no new bookings accepted.
Housing Minister Martin Foley said some residents have been relocated.
St Kilda Community Housing chief executive John Enticott said four months was adequate for residents to find different housing.
A police officer with local knowledge said “with the closure of the Gatwick Hotel it will hopefully free up police resources.”
Port Phillip Mayor Bernadene Voss said the council does not support the demolition of the hotel building.
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