City living available to all
* This article was published 10 years ago
The former J.H. Boyd Girls’ School site’s future became clearer last month, as a new disabled- friendly residential development was announced.
The new development is set to help Southbank and its surrounds become more accessible for people with a disability with the creation of the new residential tower to be built by The Mackie Group.
The site and development of Cairo was decided in conjunction with the City of Melbourne, Haven; Home, Safe and a consortium of community agencies including Scope and MS Australia to ensure it is ideally set up for all tenants.
Tenants are expected to include people with a disability, students, city workers, young professionals and retirees.
One such person is Will Anderson, a former soldier, who suffered a brain injury and was left blind after a training accident.
He hopes to be among the first residents to move into the state-of-the-art building and is excited about living so close to the city.
Mr Anderson also knows how this kind of development can help people with a disability.
“I think it’s (Cairo) so important for people like myself who have been injured. I’ll be living with other former soldiers and people with disabilities and often it’s all in the mind. We can help each other out, living together,” Mr Anderson said.
He is clearly excited about this opportunity, adding: “It’s been difficult for my parents because there are no other options for living like this.”
Lord Mayor Robert Doyle agrees with the advantages of such a fantastic location, saying: “This is rolled-gold accommodation. An address to die for.”
“This is not about mobility access. This is about housing for people with a disability. Affordable housing in the middle of the city,” Cr Doyle said.
Cr Doyle also explained the council’s anticipation for the project.
“We think this development is a world first, so we are remarkably excited,” adding: “I can’t wait for construction to start.”
He went on to explain the importance of the site for the city and, more specifically, for Southbank.
“The site will provide much-needed open space for Southbank, a community that needs open space imminently,” he said.
Mackie Group CEO Ralph Mackie was equally enthusiastic about the development saying he was well aware of the importance of the high-profile site and wanted to create a thriving village centre.
“The building will provide an exciting blend
of social and housing diversity, with a mix of residential apartments, key worker housing and housing for young people with an acquired or life-long disability,” Mr Mackie said.
He was also aware of the benefits the new building would provide Southbank, saying: “The inclusion of the Cairo residential tower on the J.H. Boyd site will provide Southbank with a fully integrated ‘neighbourhood heart’ and complement the community’s art, social and family health facilities.”
“We hope it will be a beacon for the Southbank community and a model that other councils will adopt,” Mr Mackie said.
Community group Young People in Nursing Homes National Alliance is one of the groups to have backed the development. National director Dr Browyn Morkham said the accommodation was an exciting chance for people with a disability.
“Apartment living, in concert with Cairo’s onsite support, will enable young people with disabilities to access the city’s cultural, social and economic opportunities to the full,” Dr Morkham said.
Cr Doyle summed up the new facility, saying: “This is a remarkable partnership between the city, community groups and the private sector.”
“It’s pleasing to have the future of the site close to being finalised with City of Melbourne’s conversion of the adjacent heritage school building into a community library and civic centre already well underway.” •