The City of Greater Bendigo has identified four sites that could be sold to make way for the Gov Hub development.
The council’s Jaara building, Mundy Place (aged care/early years), St Andrews Avenue building and the main Lyttleton Terrace office have been identified as sites that may need to be demolished and the land sold to progress the development.
COGB chief executive officer Craig Niemann stressed no decisions had been made and the best model for development was yet to be determined, however he did suggest the Gov Hub footprint would encompass the Lyttleton Terrace, Mundy Street, St Andrews Avenue and Market Street block, not going beyond Market Street.
Car parks would also be included as part of the project, according to Mr Niemann, who said a final number was yet to be confirmed.
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The state government, through Regional Development Victoria, is leading the project and is in the process of confirming who will build the Gov Hub and who will manage its construction.
When contacted to detail how the development could work, a government spokesperson said: “The project is in the early planning phase and all development options are being considered."
Mr Niemann said the COGB had advertised for a Gov Hub project manager to undertake planning and represent the interests of the council, “ensuring the Gov Hub will meet our needs from a construction and operation perspective, particularly in the transition of our IT infrastructure and providing the best outcomes for customers”.
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The new building, which could cost up to $90 million, will house 1000 workers including council staff, public sector workers across various state government departments.
Developer Scott Jackman floated the idea of government agencies occupying vacant buildings in the CBD, in particular in Hargreaves Mall and surrounding walkways. “Those spaces need to be repurposed away from retail because retail is dying, perhaps Gov Hub presents an opportunity to accelerate that transition,” he said. “The answer (to the CBD’s current problems) lies in densification which is service businesses and offices, not retail.”
The state government in May announced $16 million toward the project. At the time mayor Margaret O’Rourke said some council-owned inner-city sites could be sold off to finance part of the development, which could operate under a private-public partnership model.
State member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan in May said the government and the council could enter into long-term leases for the building to attract and underpin private investment.
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