RMIT plans for site of old brewery
By Royce Millar, David Rood
March 13, 2004
That enduring city eyesore, the CUB site in Swanston Street, could soon be redeveloped into an education precinct under a sweeping RMIT University scheme to sell surplus properties and build new facilities.
The university has a two-stage plan to consolidate its dispersed city campus and offload excess assets, which include properties in Carlton and Elizabeth Street.
It wants to build a new business school on either the CUB site or a vacant site in Swanston Street for students now in the Tivoli Court building in Bourke Street. It will sell the nine floors it owns in the Bourke Street building.
Pro-vice-chancellor Cameron Moroney confirmed yesterday that the university planned to "test the market" for development of the CUB site. It was exploring joint ventures with developers to get the best value from the site.
Mr Moroney said the university envisaged student housing on the site's northern end and teaching and research facilities elsewhere. But he did not want to inhibit developers' thinking.
The rationalisation of university properties would enable RMIT to speed refurbishment of the facilities it kept, and to build start-of-the-art premises, Mr Moroney said.
Of the university's $900 million-plus property portfolio, $700 million is in the city.
The former brewery land has been a frustration since the CUB brewery ceased operating in the 1980s. RMIT bought the site in 1998 and has been criticised for failing to make use of it.
The PDG Corporation, which is redeveloping the Ansett complex across the road, is known to be interested. Managing director Vince Giuliano confirmed he had had discussions with RMIT.
"The site has good potential. It really depends on what restrictions come with it," he said.
Residential developer Australand is also eyeing the land.
"It's a good strategic site, especially if RMIT underwrites some sort of lease term for student accommodation," Victorian manager Rob Pradolin said.
The Melbourne City Council has called on RMIT to ensure a high-quality, landmark development on the site. Council major projects committee chairwoman Kate Redwood said: "What we don't want to see is another low-standard student kennel."
The university should use the site to improve Melbourne's position in the competitive international education market, she said.
In 2002, RMIT's finances dived following the failure of the AMS student software system, turning a predicted $21 million surplus into a loss of almost $5 million.
The books have since returned to the black after budget cuts, the $19 million sale of land next to the university's Bundoora campus, and a Federal Government advance of $7.5 million.
- ubar qualité low-mid-rise development possibly encompassing Educational (RMITBUS
), civic and retail space.
- ubar qualité mid-high-rise development ecompassing Educational, Commercial and Retail components, landmark "the other end of the city" type thing (and above too)
- cheap-arse lefty RMIT starts wanking on about cheap and affordable student accomodation needed near it's largest campus (far-fetched, but possible) with crap design.
I'd prefer some large-ish presence up there, but I think I'll keep my mind open to what could possibly come around.