New space for creatives on Collins Street

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A new creative hub will open in Melbourne’s CBD to provide more affordable office spaces to artists – preferably tidy ones.

The City of Melbourne has signed a 10-year lease on a single level in the heritage-listed 271 Collins Street building – formerly the headquarters of NAB – to house up to 100 “desk-based” creatives when it opens in November.

“We are looking for people that are non-messy artists,” said Lord Mayor Sally Capp.

The City of Melbourne, in partnership with the Victorian government will launch a new creative hub in the CBD offering affordable and adaptive spaces for up to 100 creatives to collaborate and showcase their work. Pictured are filmmaker Emile Zile and textile artist Tamara Russell.Credit: Simon Schluter

“We are looking for small business and organisations in the creative industry, like architects, gamers and festival organisers to become tenants.”

At Collins Street Studios tenants can expect to pay about $465 per square metre gross, with some spaces as low as $250 and $350. The average rent per square metre gross in the CBD is $654.

The project is part of the $200 million Melbourne City Revitalisation Fund. The joint partnership between the City of Melbourne and the Victorian government to drive the city’s future post-COVID economy, with $2 million contributed to Creative Spaces to deliver several projects including Collins Street Studios.

Since 2006, the CBD has lost about 53,000 square metres of creative space due to urban renewal, market forces and increasing affordability pressures, according to City of Melbourne data.

Last year rent hikes of about 50 per cent forced up to dozens of creatives out of the iconic Nicholas Building on Swanston Street.

Dario Vacirca, artist and president of the Nicholas Building Association, said he had worked with the state government to try to ensure the survival of the arts community there.

“The lack of investment in our initiative, and opening a new space around the corner seems ill-fitting to the needs of the creative sector, and to the stated objectives of the creative state policy,” Vacirca said.

Vacirca also criticised the kind of creative activity and artists who were eligible for the Collins Street space.

“Why limit the type of activity that occurs at there?” he said.

However, Capp insisted that the Nicholas Building creative community was being supported by the city.

“We have been very supportive of the Nicholas building and help set up their associations and putting bids into state government within our own capabilities to help them negotiate new owners,” Capp said.

The council is accepting expressions of interest from creatives until 3pm on June 9.

The state government did not respond to requests for comment.

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