Residents pine for quiet

By Rhonda Dredge

Bible House is on the front line of excavations for the new Town Hall Metro station and its residents have learned to deal with the noise and vibrations.

Jemma Thomas lives on the top floor with her pet and partner and the balcony of their studio apartment overlooks the site.

“Sometimes I can reach out and almost touch the drill,” Jemma told CBD News. “The last one-and-a-half years have been quite full-on.”

Workers are beginning early and finishing late, she said. Jemma rented the apartment two-and-a-half years ago because of its European feel. Down below is Scott Alley, a cute little lane with a French creperie, a barber and a travel agent.

“I immediately felt a sense of community,” the branding specialist said.

Until recently there was also a small menswear shop. Now Metro Tunnel has taken over the lease for the shop and has been trying to “jazz up the alley”.

First there was astro turf which attracted backpackers who partied all night. Now the hoardings at the end of the lane have been painted with a carnival scene. 

“The small businesses are what make the laneways of Melbourne,” Jemma said. “It could be a great communal space.”

When the apartment came up for sale this year for about $500,000 Jemma wanted to buy it but there was no guarantee that a multi-storey complex would not abut it when the station is redeveloped. 

The drilling was loud when CBD News visited last month. The apartment is modest with a fold-out bed, a fold-down desk and a shower in the middle in a copper cylinder. 

The balcony used to look over the roofs of McDonalds, Hungry Jack’s and the Port Phillip Arcade. 

“The rooftops were so simple. There was a view of the Arts Centre and Fed Square. Now I try not to look down. It was once a sanctuary,” Jemma said.

“There’s a common misconception of living in the city of being alone, living in a concrete jungle or it being for people with busy corporate lives. This building is full of artists and makers and people who work from home.”

Gemma runs a niche internet business from the apartment called COAT Label – two stylish merino wool ranges for greyhounds and whippets. 

See Pet’s Corner on page 20 for a full report on Stevie’s modelling career. 

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