Any development will be in keeping with the surrounding buildings, the Metro Rail Authority says. (Supplied: Melbourne Metro Rail Authority)
It’s going to bring large-scale disruptions, but the new Metro Rail will provide an opportunity to redevelop arguably one of Melbourne’s most drab, and busiest city, corners, and create a “great legacy” for the city, the project’s boss says.
A number of fast-food chains and knick-knack shops will be booted from the bottom end of Swanston Street to make way for the new CBD South train station, opposite Flinders St.
It’s all part of the $11 billion Metro Tunnel project, which will see a number of new train stations dotted around inner Melbourne.
The businesses will need to make way for a massive shaft to be build, so construction can be done by entering the new tunnel from the side, rather than above.
It means it won’t be necessary to rip up Swanston St and bring trams to a halt, but the works will still be very disruptive.
But the chief executive of the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority, which is overseeing the massive infrastructure project, says it’s going to be worth it, and not just because of the boost to the city’s public transport system.
An artist impression of what the corner will look like once the businesses are removed. (Supplied: Melbourne Metro Rail Authority)
“The great opportunity that comes with that is to redevelop the area around the entrance and above, so that what we walk away with at the end of the day is a great legacy for Melbourne,” Evan Tattersall said.
“We will come away with a much improved area than what you see today.”
Metro tunnel works providing a ‘blank canvas’: Lord Mayor
Mr Tattersall said the authority would work with the “iconic” buildings in the area to make sure any new development would fit in.
“So Young and Jackson, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Nicholas Building, Flinders St station, there’s some fantastic old buildings there that we want to make sure we are very much in sync with when we develop something right next to them,” he said.
All businesses acquired by the authority will be compensated, Mr Tattersall said.
Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said the development was a great opportunity to revamp a busy part of the city.
“That’s one of the good things, we’ve got a blank canvas to remake a corner of our city, so we’ll be looking at that very carefully to make sure the above-ground development lives up to importance of that corner,” he said.
“We could think of uses for it, perhaps the library that we have to move from Flinders Lane, which is Australia’s busiest [lending] library, it may be offices,” he said.
“We certainly hope for an active frontage onto Swanston St that is a really attractive. We’ll lose the visitors centre that is at Federation Square because of the Melbourne Metro, so that’s a possibility.”
Development ‘won’t monster’ Flinders St precinct
With 850,000 people coming into the city on a “quiet day”, Cr Doyle said Melburnians needed to be prepared for the disruptions.
As part of the tunnel project, trams along the Elizabeth St corridor will be extended, turning onto Flinders St and continuing up to the stations.
Underground walkways will connect the new station to Flinders St, Federation Square, and Elizabeth St.
Earlier this month the council revealed plans to turn the bottom end of Elizabeth St into a car-free zone, similar to the Bourke St mall.
Mr Tattersall said while it provided great opportunities for restaurants, retail and other commercial activities, the development won’t overwhelm the precincts.
“It won’t be a huge scale down there, it’s not a huge area and there are height limitations on buildings, so you can’t put up a monster skyscraper like you see in Hong Kong [metro stations],” he said.
“You don’t want a monstering, overpowering skyscraper right above it.”