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The popular Brunetti cafe on Swanston Street will be forced to relocate when the Melbourne Metro Rail takes over the City Square as a construction site for the $11 billion rail project.
Four other businesses in the square are in limbo, awaiting information about the security of their own sites under the Westin Hotel.
The viability of the once maligned City Square is also under threat, given the space will be occupied by construction staff for up to eight years.
Co-owner Yuri Angele has until 2017 to vacate to enable construction of the CBD South station but is already looking for a new space in Flinders Lane.
He said he was "very disappointed" about losing the prime site and would struggle to find an al fresco location in the CBD.
"It's an important site to us this time of the year with a lot of international tourists," Mr Angele said. "It's a beautiful space."
Gerard Kelly, the owner of three bars in the City Square. Photo: Simon Schluter
Gerard Kelly, the owner of bars Three Below, Caboose Canteen and La Vita Buona, employs 60 staff and said he was "very much in the dark" about the disruption. Concerned about the future of his businesses and livelihood of his staff, he said: "It's a family-run business and we need to be able to provide our staff with information."
Mr Kelly, president of the City Precinct business group, is concerned about noise, dust and access to the square, and hopes to have his questions answered when he meets with the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority on Wednesday.
A Melbourne Metro Rail map of the CBD South station affecting Brunetti and the City Square.
The owner of Fur hairdressing, Frank Valvo, said he had "no idea" what was going on and that was disappointing after 10 years in the City Square. "I don't know if we're staying," he said. "All we know is that the site is going to be a dumping ground."
A spokesman for the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority told Fairfax Media: "To enable the new CBD South station to be built safely and efficiently, Melbourne Metro Rail project will need to temporarily occupy much of City Square.
"The Melbourne Metro Rail Authority is working closely with the City of Melbourne and tenants likely to be affected to consider the options available."
The Andrews government is compulsorily acquiring 44 buildings in total (between Kensington and South Yarra), which includes 94 titles.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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