By Rhonda Dredge
The good news for this month is the miraculous recovery of a building at 55 Swanston St which some said was doomed to become little more than a backdrop for street performers.
More than 40 tenants were evacuated in September, following the flooding of the basement and destruction of the electrical system.
City West Water pinpointed the problem as a broken water main beneath the footpath in Swanston St.
For six weeks the building was boarded up, adding to the general atmosphere of urban decay at the heart of the city.
Buildings between the Nicholas Building and Young & Jacksons are being demolished for the Metro Tunnel project and the Port Phillip Arcade was empty when CBD News visited, save for a lone architectural draughtsman photographing the place prior to demolition.
Most of the arcade’s former tenants have found new premises nearby, with stamp dealers and cake decorators now selling in Flinders St and cafes relocated elsewhere.
Locals have been stoic about the disruption.
Now that 70 per cent of 55 Swanston St is back in operation and a water pipe is being replaced out the front, the mood is more forgiving.
“Pipes beneath Swanston St are 80 years old,” says building manager Johan Fourie. “I feel sorry for City West Water.”
The building did not need complete rewiring, as was rumoured, but a new switchboard had to be imported.
A spokeswoman for Ability English, which occupies three floors in the building, said it was giving classes the day after the flooding at other locations in the city.
The educational institution returned to Swanston St on November 13 and it is business as usual.
Vendors at street level were most affected and two businesses have not returned.