$70m retail and residential development in Melville St

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HUNDREDS of university students will call the Hobart CBD home with the construction of a residential and retail precinct on the corner of Melville and Elizabeth streets.

The $70 million project will provide accommodation for 400 students and will be unveiled by the University of Tasmania and the Hobart City Council today.

The project will be built on the carpark site now home to the Sunday Farm Gate Market.

A new retail precinct will be created along the Elizabeth St frontage of the project, with Melville St and Brisbane St remaining linked via a landscaped public walkway.

The university was remaining tight-lipped about the project yesterday.

But the Mercury understands the complex will include catering services, academic support services and a 24-hour reception.

The project will give the city a much needed boost of activity in line with the council’s desire to get more people living in the CBD.

The project follows on from the announcement of a $75 million creative arts hub to be built in Campbell St by the university.

The Academy of Creative Industries and Performing Arts was given the green light in December.

The Federal Government has given the university $55 million to build 770 studio apartments at UTAS campuses across the state over the next few years.

Federal Minister for Community Services Julie Collins said yesterday the project will give university students access to cheap, affordable housing in the heart of the city.

“We know that housing affordability is a concern for many students in Hobart,” Ms Collins said yesterday.

“We want to reduce the stress of rental costs and give them the peace of mind to focus on studying.”

She said the project, funded through the National Rental Affordability Scheme, would give about 400 low- and moderate-income UTAS students access to more affordable rental accommodation.

“This development will save eligible students thousands of dollars a year.”

The Mercury understands the Sunday Farm Gate Market will remain somewhere in the city.

Master Builders Tasmania executive director Michael Kerschbaum said the project could create hundreds of jobs.

However, he did raise concerns the city may not have enough labourers for a number of projects which are due to come on line in the city.

“The timing could be better.”

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