MELBOURNE'S heart will be transformed by a Chicago-inspired public space and cultural precinct to connect our art and sport institutions.
The first vision of how Federation Square East would look can be revealed by the Herald Sun, showing design work by Major Projects Victoria to cover the Jolimont railway yards.
The design is modelled on Chicago's Millennium Park, a big tourist drawcard also developed to cover ugly rail tracks.
Millennium Park also connects a key body of water - Lake Michigan - to the city.
Included in the Federation Square East design is a landscaped deck over the rail lines.
Space for a boutique hotel, shops and office space, plus areas for public art and performances, are also included.
Premier John Brumby told the Herald Sun his vision for a world-best sport and art precinct was progressing with major redevelopments at some of our favourite sports and arts centres.
Mr Brumby said the missing piece of the puzzle may not be approved until after the next election, but it was a crucial plan to show where Melbourne was going.
"Victoria's lifestyle really sets us apart (and) a big part of that is our love of sport and the arts," Mr Brumby said.
"I want Victoria to be home to the best sports and arts precinct anywhere in the world," he said.
The Government's plan to cover Jolimont railway yards was unveiled in 2008, with big business and tourism operators supporting the push to breathe more life into the area. The arts community will view the new design with interest, as it provides space for performances and exhibitions, as well as better linking the area north of the Yarra River to the Southbank precinct.
The Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry has previously called for a Prime Minister's Melbourne residence to be built on the site, but no plans for that are included in the Major Projects Victoria design.
Contract details show rail operators Metro Trains and engineering company Aurecon Australia have been employed to explore decking options over the rail lines.
The contracts, worth about $800,000, are for design input and engineering services.
The total Federation Square East project would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, but commercial projects such as a boutique hotel and retail outlets would mean private enterprise would contribute heavily.
Mr Brumby said investment at world-class venues like AAMI Park, Melbourne Park, Hamer Hall and the Convention Centre was a crucial step in the overall commitment.
"Over the medium and long term, I want to build on these investments by linking our sports precinct and the Yarra, with the CBD and our arts precinct," he said.
"We are focused at this time on building world-class venues, but over the next five to 10 years, we will deliver on this vision."