By Luke Voogt
Demolition for a $220 million civic precinct including a new council headquarters begins today.
The demolition will pave the way for construction on the Mercer Street site to begin at the end of July, according to City Hall.
Developer Quintessential Equity has appointed builder Watpac to deliver the project, with both companies setting a target of 60 per cent local procurement.
Mayor Stephanie Asher praised the target, which according to council will help create about 900 local jobs during construction, stimulating the greater Geelong economy during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The [target] will provide a welcomed, much-needed boost to our local industry during these difficult times,” Cr Asher said.
Local company Perry Demolitions today will begin work Bayley Street portion of the site.
The car park at the site will remain open until 20 July, when Quintessential Equity and Watpac are scheduled begin preparations for construction.
The project will consolidate seven council offices into a single energy-efficient headquarters saving $3 million a year in rent and energy costs, according to City Hall.
The new headquarters would streamline council services and “drive operational efficiencies”, City Hall said.
An additional commercial building will offer opportunities to lease office space with a total capacity of 900 employees.
“The creation of new public space and retail outlets, cafes and end-of-trip facilities, as well as excellent pedestrian access, mean this is a precinct the whole community will be able to enjoy,” Cr Asher said.
Council has committed $51.43 million in its proposed 2020/21 budget, representing about half of its $102.5 million contribution to the $220 million project.
City Hall chief executive officer Martin Cutter said a mix of asset sales and borrowings would fund the project.
Record-low interest rates coupled with significant savings in rent, energy and operating efficiencies would mean no additional cost to ratepayers, he said.
“This project will provide significant support to our local economy when we need it most, without impacting on residents’ rates.”
The new cross-laminated timber headquarters will achieve the highest environmental standards in design, energy, waste and water usage including a six-star Green Star design rating, according to City Hall.
“We’re designing a flexible, adaptable workplace in consultation with our employees and unions, inclusive of learnings during COVID-19 around workplace flexibility,’ Mr Cutter said.
City Hall said it was exploring additional parking on Gheringhap Street to replace that lost to the project.