City Square closing soon

The Melbourne Metro Rail Authority (MMRA) is set to take over City Square from early next year, when work begins on the City South Station.

MMRA will compulsorily acquire both the square and three-level car park below it from City of Melbourne and will occupy it from February 2017.

The entire square will be used as an excavation area to allow the construction of the City South Station below Swanston St. The MMRA is expected to return the City Square to the council once work is complete.

City of Melbourne councillors voted to support the early occupation of City Square, subject to appropriate compensation, at the August 2 Future Melbourne Committee meeting.

Councillors expressed their support for the Metro Tunnel project and unanimously agreed to support the early occupation of City Square to facilitate the project.

However, Lord Mayor Robert Doyle noted the matter of compensation for businesses affected by the decision.

“That’s going to be very important for those businesses,” Cr Doyle said.

City Square trader Gerard Kelly, who runs three hospitality businesses in the area, says he has been in conversation with MMRA since last year.

“At this point we haven’t received any confirmation about compensation or assistance with relocation,” Mr Kelly said.

Mr Kelly said his businesses had been operating at City Square for 12 years and employed up to 60 people.

“We would love to be able to continue operating even if that meant relocation to a new location within the CBD,” Mr Kelly.

However, Mr Kelly said that, without assistance from the MMRA, relocation would not be possible.

The Metro Tunnel Environmental Effects Statement (EES) admits the temporary occupation of City Square is likely to have a “significant impact” on businesses, to the point that “they may not be viable”.

The EES says some businesses may be entitled to compensation under the Land Acquisition and Compensation Act.

While the matter of compensation for City Square businesses is yet to be resolved, the Metro Tunnel project marches on.

In August the State Government short-listed three consortia to build the Metro Tunnel and five new underground stations.

The shortlisted parties are:

Continuum Victoria – comprising ACCIONA Infrastructure, Ferrovial Agroman, Honeywell, Downer EDI and Plenary Origination;

Cross Yarra Partnership – comprising Lendlease Engineering, John Holland, Bouygues Construction and Capella Capital; and

Moving Melbourne Together – comprising Pacific Partnerships, CPB Contactors, Ghela, Salini Impregilo, Serco and Macquarie Capital.

The contract will be awarded by the end of 2017 and work is expected to start in 2018.

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