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The deal is done

06 Apr 2017

The deal is done Image

By Sean Car

Following long and arduous negotiations over many years, the City of Melbourne has finally confirmed the sale of the land behind Boyd to a private developer.

Councillors unanimously approved the sale of the land at 132 Kavanagh St for $15.5 million + GST to Cairo Melbourne Pty Ltd at its March 28 meeting.

Originally operating under the name Mackie, Cairo first purchased the site from the council way back in 2007 and the two parties entered into a commercial agreement in 2012 to develop a residential building and a 2500 sqm park.

However, while the heritage JH Boyd School building has flourished as the vibrant Boyd Community Hub since 2012, the site behind the school building has laid idle.

In May last year, the council announced that it had torn up its commercial contract with Mackie after the developer failed to uphold its contractual obligations.

It came amid revelations that the same offshore financer that forced former Family First Senator Bob Day into bankruptcy, Goshen Capital Resources, had been tied up in the deal.

Despite allocating $200,000 in last year’s budget for marketing and legal fees associated with putting the site back on the open market, council announced in September last year that it had re-entered into a contract with Mackie.

However, Mackie is now operating the project under the name Cairo.

The renegotiated deal has resulted in more public open space for Southbank, with the Boyd Community Hub and urban park set to account for 5171sqm of the site.

Some 46 of the 2356 sqm development’s 200 residential apartments have been designated for affordable housing, while the building materials used will be in keeping with the heritage character of the community hub.

The installation of solar panels on the roof of the new building will also partially offset the cost of electricity for the affordable housing units. The project will also include a retail component.

While the new deal has resulted in a slightly larger urban park, the Southbank Residents’ Association (SRA) has long campaigned for council to turn the whole site into open space for the local community.

In its submission to the council, the SRA described council’s renegotiated deal with Cairo as “another heavy blow for Southbank”.

“The Southbank community has always been vocal with regard to the development of this site and understood this was a unique opportunity to establish a considerable sized park for residents and visitors,” the SRA stated.

“Unfortunately our campaign was unsuccessful and City of Melbourne decided to sell the land to create affordable housing with all proceeds going to the Queen Victoria Market project.”

Speaking at last month’s meeting, Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said he was irritated by the community’s ongoing campaign to turn the entire site into a park.

“Yes it (open space) is required in Southbank but I can’t think of an area of the city where more effort and resources are going into providing public open space than in Southbank,” he said.

“It’s extraordinarily difficult to retrofit in a very developed postcode like Southbank and yet we’re doing it and therefore I think we should be proud of that and it’s a great story to tell.”

The City of Melbourne’s director of city planning Professor Rob Adams confirmed that council would have full control over the park’s design and that it would the first component of the project constructed.

“The remainder of the site, which is the majority of the site actually, would go to a local open space and that is currently going through a process of design,” he said. “It will be funded through the open space levy.”

“This proposal with Mackie had previously allowed them to use that open space for construction. That is not the case in this contract.”

“They will need to, in fact, construct that as is normal around the city by not utilising this open space so we can proceed with the construction of that open space and that will be coming through the system in the very near future.”

Cr Rohan Leppert said he was very happy with the “additional and more than expected open space”.

“There will be some more public open space fronting City Rd, which will give better views of the Boyd School,” he said. “I think it’s particularly important to get the line of sight between that community facility and the tram stop by Kings Way.”

Deputy Lord Mayor Arron Wood said he welcomed the development’s provision of affordable housing, describing the project as “absolutely critical”.

“I know this is one many councillors who have been here longer than me will be glad to see come to fruition. I think it will be a fantastic development,” he said.

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