Carlton Connect tech precinct gathers pace

Plans for the Melbourne Women’s Hospital redevelopment, the Carlton Connect precinct.

Lend Lease has scooped up the development rights to one of Melbourne’s major education and technology hubs, the Carlton Connect precinct, in what has been billed as a new innovation precinct for the city.

The new site will form a key part of the University of Melbourne’s efforts to promote co-operation with the private sector in technology and research.

The university short-listed rival developers Lend Lease and Grocon, as well as a specialist consortium, as a potential partners in March for the project that will see a major overhaul of the old Melbourne Women’s Hospital site in Carlton.

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While Grocon’s interest had cooled by mid-year, Lend Lease pipped a consortium comprising student accommodation firm Campus Living Villages, developer Charter Hall and the China Communications Construction Company-owned John Holland Group.

Lend Lease will now build, operate and ultimately transfer the 8500sqm site back to the university.

The company’s selection has been shrouded in secrecy and the company and university declined to comment.

The Melbourne project is expected to span a total lettable floor area of about 50,000sqm

The precinct is already home to the Melbourne Accelerator Program, is the future site of Australia’s only Science Gallery, and has helped forge relationships with Australia Post and NASDAQ.

The area has become central to the university’s ambitions to boost its collaboration with industry and end users of its research, as well as creating employment opportunities for students, and even helping them start up their own tech businesses.

Julie Wells, Melbourne University’s vice-principal (policy and projects), said earlier this year the precinct would be focused on technology and innovation and support research collaboration with industry.

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The project will see university researchers work alongside key industry players, which are expected to take up space, alongside what has been billed as a world-class accelerator program.

The precinct will also have a student accommodation element that is in keeping with Lend Lease’s development of a tower at the Darling Harbour Live precinct in Sydney.

The company is also building James Cook University’s $85 million Science Place project, a joint teaching and research facility on the University’s Townsville campus.

The Melbourne project is expected to span a total lettable floor area of about 50,000sqm.

The NSW government’s development arm UrbanGrowth NSW is now in talks to secure Google as a tenant as part of its vision to transform the White Bay Power Station site in Sydney into a leading tech hub.

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