Pledge to help the homeless

By Rhonda Dredge

Businesses in the CBD have agreed to provide their services pro bono to convert a multi-storey building in the city into a homeless shelter.

The partially-occupied building is owned by the City of Melbourne and valued at $20 million.

The deal, which was first revealed in the October edition of CBD News, has been put together by former developer Rob Pradolin on behalf of his charity Housing All Australians. 

“People are time-poor. In the private sector they all want to do stuff, but they don’t have the time,” Mr Pradolin told CBD News.

He has made it easy for businesses to donate their time by doing all the groundwork, liaising with council and getting people to sign up for the development.

“I ring someone I know and say we want an architect. This is the commitment. Are you in or not? I haven’t had a knock-back.”

Cox Architecture in Flinders Lane has agreed to design the fit-out of the 4000-sqm mid-rise building. 

“We were asked six months ago. We thought it was a fantastic cause,” said Cox director Simon Hausregger.

“I think it will be a challenging job. We’re doing projects for those with means and needs across the city. With this we’ll be working with the most vulnerable.”

The address of the building has yet to be released by the group until the project has been approved by council. An alternative building has also been mooted.

“We’re hopeful that council will make a resolution before the end of the year so we can design and prepare the building ready for construction,” Mr Pradolin said.

According to a 2014 report, the City of Melbourne owns 74 properties across inner Melbourne worth more than $2.5 million.

The idea behind pop-up shelters is that an under-utilised building is converted for a period of 20 to 30 years until it is sold or the site is developed.

Kane Constructions has agreed to do the fit-out at cost, a contribution of nearly one million dollars.

Other contributors include Docklands building surveyors du Chateau Chun, Umow Lai, Irwin Consult, Bonacci Group, Gallagher Jeffs, Rider Levett Bucknall, Hollerich Town Planning and legal services Norton Rose Fulbright.

The building will offer crisis or transitional accommodation. It will be the third conversion of an existing building for use as crisis shelter that Mr Pradolin has organised in the past 12 months. 

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