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Residents along St Kilda Road are increasingly nervous the value of their properties will drop during the construction of the metro rail tunnel project, expected to take at least five years.
The historic tree-lined boulevard — an iconic precinct bordered by parkland and apartment complexes — is a busy thoroughfare travelled by 30,000 cars each day.
Marilyn Wane has two properties along St Kilda Road; one she rents out and the other she lives in.
An artist’s impression of the Domain station to be built in St Kilda Road as part of the metro rail tunnel. Photo: Supplied
Ms Wane, 61, said she and her fellow neighbours would be “stuck between a rock and a hard place” during the $10.9 billion construction.
Property owners and residents have been told to brace for traffic woes, at least five years of construction and the loss of more than 100 mature trees along St Kilda Road.
“We are all locked up,” said Ms Wane. “There’s no way we’re going to get the value we should get when St Kilda Road is just going to be one huge construction site.”
Preparatory work has started on St Kilda Road as part of the Metro Tunnel project. Photo: Paul Jeffers
At a community meeting on Sunday, residents were told construction would be carried out between 6am and 10pm six days a week, and to expect 480 truck movements each day.
The Melbourne Metro Rail Authority plans to build Domain station roughly 15 metres below St Kilda Road using a “cut and cover” method.
The authority has not specified the exact dimensions of the huge pit that will be excavated, but residents believe it will be 300 metres long and 40 metres wide, stretching from Domain Road to Toorak Road.
An artist’s impression of the St Kilda Road area near the Shrine of Remembrance during construction of the rail tunnel. Photo: Jason Doherty
Ms Wane rents out her sixth-floor apartment overlooking St Kilda Road, but her tenants’ lease expires in December.
“All of the trees along St Kilda Road will have gone by then, and because it has a view, I get a premium rent for it,” she said
But she is worried she could have trouble finding a new tenant and could be forced to reduce the rent. “Over the course of construction, I could potentially lose thousands.”
Trams along St Kilda Road will also be affected. Photo: Pat Scala
She said many residents along the leafy boulevard were retirees who sold their homes in the suburbs to downsize. “Because it’s an older demographic, a lot of these people will never see St Kilda Road as it was once again.”
Real estate agent Nicholas Hoo, from Marshall White, said some St Kilda Road property owners were choosing not to sell because they thought construction could have an adverse effect on prices.
But there had been a flurry of selling up prior to the start of construction, he said.
Tree-lined St Kilda Road. Photo: Craig Abraham
Local agents said there was still strong demand for apartments in established buildings in the $1 million to $3 million bracket, but there was an oversupply of apartments priced under one million in larger, modern buildings.
Paul Osborne, founder of buyers’ advocacy firm Secret Agent, said from a general point of view that it may be harder to sell during construction due to inconveniences such as noise or difficulty accessing the property or nearby amenities.
Without taking into consideration any changes in the property market, he said he would advise holding off selling until the project was finished.
St Kilda Road residents are concerned that hundreds of Elm trees planted in the 1890s are about to be destroyed along St Kilda Rd to make way for the Melbourne Metro Rail. Photo: Penny Stephens
“You don’t want to sell when there’s a question mark,” he said. “You want to sell when it’s done and people can enjoy it.”
Susan Holly from Holly Prestige Property said she had not seen a dip in the market as a result of the Melbourne Metro Rail Project.
“I think anyone who gets an apartment understands there’s always going to be something,” she said. “There’s always be a pool upgrade or a major maintenance issue that is going to impact them for a while – it’s all part of high density living.”
“I think savvy investors will see that it’s a really good thing.”
But residents say the five-year construction of Domain station is just an estimate and it could take between eight and ten years, with the Metro Tunnel Project not scheduled to begin operating until 2026.
While spruiking the plan in the media, state government ministers and the authority have labelled the project’s construction as short-term pain for long-term gain, a description Ms Wane disagreed with.
“I’m in my early 60s and 10 years is not short term for me at my stage of life,” she says. “And there’s a whole lot of residents in their early 70s.”
The Save St Kilda Road group, which includes Ms Wane, has petitioned the government to review the proposed project design and consider deep cavern mining construction for Domain station.
This article first appeared on www.domain.com.au
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