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11 Aug 2016

Southbanker Image

Having purchased his home more than five years ago, Bank Apartments resident Jack Tan says he loves living in Southbank.

However, while he loves the location, he said his one concern was that it was still too heavily focused on development instead of community.

“I think Southbank is in the best location. It’s next to everything. The city, Albert Park, the river, South Melbourne Market, the gardens … but it just lacks that community element,” he said.

Having moved to Australia from China more than 10 years ago, Jack attended high school in Watsonia before completing an arts degree majoring in political science and history at the Australian National University in Canberra.

You might call him a “jack of all trades” given he has since worked in real estate, journalism, finance, translating, advertising and now as a freelance IT consultant.

“I like keeping my options open and always being occupied,” Jack said. “I worked in real estate companies here in Melbourne and I also worked as a journalist at a radio station in a combined role of promoting advertising and reporting.”

“I wanted to pick up something more technical with my skills in English language, financial knowledge and my IT knowledge because those are the most important languages you should have.”

It’s that open interest that has led him to becoming very involved with his building’s owners’ corporation (OC) committee, as he said being a part of the community was something he valued highly.

He said since joining his OC more than two years ago, he had built some great relationships with fellow residents by helping tackle shared problems such as neighbouring development and short-stays.

“Our members are very close knit and we communicate a lot in depth,” he said. “Short-stays have been a big issue in our building. It’s been a constant struggle of give and take and constant compromise.”

“We understand that it’s hard for them to control because they are guests who are having holidays and parties. They don’t give a damn about residents and I think it’s a problem for all buildings in this area.”

The western end of City Rd continues to be an epicentre for construction as new apartments make their way into the sky while other sites lie idle in preparation for future towers.   

With neighbouring Clarke St already subject to one approval and another application for 200-metre plus towers, residents at Bank Apartments continue to fight to preserve their amenity.

Jack said he believed Planning Minister Richard Wynne “was doing a good job” in regulating density of new developments and that he hoped he would knock back the latest application for a 73-storey tower.

“We understand that this is an area for development and we don’t want to stand in the way, but they need to be developed wisely with preliminary and ongoing consultation with the community,” he said.

“We’re not happy about the one that has just been submitted. It hasn’t got a permit yet and we’re hoping that it will never get approved. According to the new regulations it shouldn’t.”

The approved 74-storey Elysium development, which would block Jack’s view if constructed, has recently been put on the market by its developer and looks unlikely to proceed.

Nevertheless, he said he believed that development in Melbourne was heading in the direction of cities like Hong Kong and that the focus needed to shift towards the community before it was too late.

He said he was determined to continue working with his OC and the local community to make Southbank an even better place to live for current and future residents.

“Future development should focus more on the community and we can make the area greener because at the moment it’s all concrete and it has a look more like Hong Kong now, which is suffocating.”

“Even though the area is being entirely redeveloped into residential buildings it doesn’t have to always be high-rise it can be medium or even low-rise. We need lots of green areas and open space.”

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