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In her first-floor St Kilda Road apartment, Bronnie Walsh is high enough to be in the treetops but low enough to still feel part of the street.
Leaning on the balcony she's had conversations with people on the footpath below; even invited them up for a drink once or twice.
She loves how the trees reflect the seasons. How in winter she can see through to the Shrine of Remembrance but in summer it's obscured by a screen of leaves.
"It's quite sad looking out to the trees these days. I'm really holding onto every time I look out there and see the leaves … That's going to disappear."
Walsh has made her balcony into an oasis. A carpet of AstroTurf. Tomato plants growing in planters. Flowers blooming, a cactus on the table.
What's happening to St Kilda Rd?
A teacher, she was so fond of the location that when the opportunity arose, she bought the apartment next door. She rents it out through Airbnb — income she relies on. It's rarely vacant, and can bring in upwards of $40,000 a year.
But Airbnb turns on reviews and Walsh fears the glowing reviews will change after the leafy boulevard becomes a construction zone.
Her balcony will directly overlook the huge pit that's central to the "cut and cover" method of construction preferred by the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority (MMRA). From what residents can tell, the hole will be 300 metres long by 40 metres wide and 30 metres deep.
When Walsh bought her second apartment in late 2015 she didn't realize about the rail project and wouldn't have bought if she did. Now she feels trapped: unable to sell, unlikely to be able to fill her investment property.
"I'm concerned it's going to seriously impact on my business. There may be a possibility to rent it out long term but once people come to visit the area and see the construction and the trucks, I mean, would you rent a place like that? I wouldn't."
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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