The Mackie Group co-announces proposed 'vertical village' for Southbank

Ralph Mackie, CEO of The Mackie Group, Lord Mayor Robert Doyle and representatives of a consortium of Victorian community groups came together this morning to announce a proposed new ‘vertical village’ development to be built on the former grounds of the J. H. Boyd Girls’ School in Southbank.

Also present was Will Anderson, a 40-year-old ex-serviceman from the Australian Defence Force, who was injured in an army exercise that left him blind. Mr. Anderson will be one of the first residents of the commercial and residential development.

The aim of the development, named Cairo, is to provide an exciting blend of social and housing diversity, with a mix of residential apartments, affordable housing and housing for people with an acquired or life-long disability.

MEDIA RELEASE: Australia’s first ‘vertical village’ set to transform Southbank

A landmark new tower in Southbank is set to transform high-rise living by creating a vertical village for students, city workers, young professionals, retirees and people with a disability.

The residential and commercial development, known as Cairo, will be built on the grounds of the former J.H. Boyd Girls’ School and completes the City of Melbourne’s plans to transform the site into a key civic centre.

The Mackie Group, working with Haven; Home, Safe and a consortium of community agencies led by Scope and MS Australia, is creating a new paradigm in community development, having won the contract with City of Melbourne to redevelop the site.

The first building of its kind in Australia, Cairo comprises commercial and retail space and 220 residential apartments to be divided between the retail market, key worker housing and accommodation for young people living with a disability.

Cairo will also be home to The Australian Ballet School’s student residence (pending funding), providing accommodation for 90 students. Approaching its 50th anniversary in 2014, the Australian Ballet School hopes to celebrate this occasion in the state-of-the-art facilities Cairo will provide.

Ralph Mackie, CEO of The Mackie Group, said the development is a groundbreaking innovation for community living and caring, set among the City of Melbourne’s urban facilities and a new community park.

“Our vision is to create a thriving village centre for this important and high profile site, while introducing a striking architectural addition to Melbourne’s skyline,” Mr Mackie said.

“The building will provide an exciting blend of social and housing diversity, with a mix of residential apartments, key worker housing and housing for young people with an acquired or life-long disability.”

Mr Mackie said that Cairo is a major step forward in meeting the need for dedicated residential places for people with disabilities and sets a new benchmark for integrated living and care within the City of Melbourne.

“The inclusion of the Cairo residential tower on the J.H. Boyd site will provide Southbank with a fully integrated ‘neighbourhood heart’ and complement the community’s art, social and family health facilities,” Mr Mackie said.

“Cairo is, in essence, a ‘vertical village’ that provides a mix of residential types as well as retail stores, boutique cafes, a school and numerous community services.

“This variety of uses, combined with the facilities provided by the City of Melbourne, is a shift in how inner-city neighbourhoods are developed.

“We hope it will be a beacon for the Southbank community and a model that other councils will adopt,” Mr Mackie said.

Both MS Australia and the Young People in Nursing Homes national alliance have come out in support of the construction.

“Apartment living, in concert with Cairo’s onsite support, will enable young people with disabilities to access the city’s cultural, social and economic opportunities to the full,” said Dr Bronwyn Morkham, National Director of the Young People in Nursing Homes national alliance.

“And in doing so, Cairo will set a new benchmark in support and accommodation excellence for young people with disabilities in one of Melbourne’s premier residential locations.”

Cairo commences construction at the end of 2012, with residents expected to move into their new home in early 2015.

Will Anderson, a 40-year-old ex-serviceman from the Australian Defence Force, will be among the first residents to move into the purpose-designed apartments for people living with a disability. After sustaining an acquired brain injury while on an exercise in the Northern Territory that also left him blind, Will has struggled to find the accommodation and support he needs to engage with his local community.

Combining The Mackie Group’s private development expertise with the community agencies’ collective experience in providing services to people with disabilities, Cairo will afford people like Will an opportunity to move out of the family home and live in a safe environment with reliable support, while still being able to live as independent adults.

Aside from Cairo’s unique residential and operating model, Cairo is also an aesthetic architectural addition to Southbank, designed by Mackie Group company MSM & Associates. Michele Cobelens of MSM & Associates said Cairo will be a striking addition to the Southbank streetscape and new urban park.

“Cairo will be a new Melbourne landmark occupying a prominent corner position at the intersection of Kings Way and City Road. It has been designed to facilitate innovative community and vertical village living as well as to achieve a 5 star Green rating,” Ms Cobelens said.