By Luke Voogt
A $128 million redevelopment of Geelong Arts Centre’s Little Malop Street building has begun a month early, state government has announced.
“The [redevelopment] has commenced ahead of schedule, bringing immediate jobs and opportunities to Geelong and setting the city up for economic recovery and success,” Creative Industries Minister Danny Pearson said.
The closure of the site recently allowed establishment works and the stripping of internal fittings and finishes in some parts of the building to begin last month, about a month early.
Workers also completed the demolition of the site’s old Barwon Health building in November, as scheduled.
Managing contractor Lendlease has committed to a “Geelong first” policy that prioritises investment in local businesses for the project.
The contractor has awarded eight tender packages to Geelong businesses employing 44 people so far.
Eight other Victorian companies involved with the project have committed to employ Geelong residents and engage with local suppliers.
Ten suppliers and subcontractors have also committed to hiring at least one apprentice, according to Geelong Arts Centre.
State government expects early works to be complete in mid-2021 with project completion scheduled for late 2023.
“When complete this project will offer new creative spaces, new services and greater accessibility to top-quality experiences for all ages,” Mr Pearson said.
Overall, the redevelopment will boost the local economy by generating more than 600 jobs during construction, according to government.
Currently, hoardings and safe access routes are in place around the site, with workers aiming to minimise disruption to nearby businesses.
Through this process the project team has donated more than 15 tonnes of salvaged items and materials to local community organisations.
These include white goods, furniture, kitchen benches and other materials, such as a large roll of red carpet the centre donated to Herne Hill Primary School for its grade 6 graduation ceremony.
“Through adopting sustainable practices, the project is also befitting our community more broadly – now and for the future,” Geelong MP Christine Couzens said.