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McDonald’s, Hungry Jacks, KFC, Starbucks, CBA flee Swanston Street ahead of $10.9b Melbourne Metro Rail project

Written By: admin - Sep• 14•19

Multiple buildings behind Young & Jackson’s hotel will be demolished to make way for CBD South station. Photo: Andrew De La Rue Starbucks is among retailers who’ll be forced out of their prime, high-trading Swanston Street stores to make way for the Melbourne Metro Rail project. Photo: Andrew De La Rue
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Fast food chains McDonald’s, Hungry Jacks, KFC and Starbucks and banking giant CBA will be forced out of their prime, high-trading Swanston Street stores to make way for the government’s $10.9 billion Melbourne Metro Rail project.

The business behemoths will join a growing exodus of key retailers abandoning the city’s main shopping core, Swanston Street, ahead of years of disruption expected from work on the project’s centrepiece tunnel and two city stations.

Metro authorities are negotiating the compulsory acquisition of four Swanston Street properties between Young & Jackson’s Hotel on Flinders Street and the Nicholas Building on the corner of Flinders Lane.

All four buildings – along with the Port Phillip Arcade behind – will be razed to make way for the rail project’s CBD South station.

Plans for the new city tunnel have already seen a number of retailers take flight, looking for other locations nearby to set up shop.

Men’s clothing store Tarocash, shoe retailer Foot Locker and Brunetti’s Cafe are in negotiations, or have announced, new trading locations.

Starbucks is being forced to move from a site at the base of Westin Hotel at the rear of City Square due to looming construction that will see City Square overtaken as a staging base for much of the tunnel project.

The nine-kilometre twin tunnel will have five underground stations – Domain, CBD South, CBD North, Parkville and Arden – expected to take half a decade to complete before they become operational in 2026.

McDonald’s owns the three-storey building at 9-11 Swanston Street and will be hard pressed to find a store in an equally prominent location to replace what has been a jewel in its trading crown.

McDonald’s confirmed it was approached by the Metro Rail authorities and were “working through the process”, a spokeswoman said. “We are keen to maintain a presence it the area,” she said.

Hungry Jacks is believed close to sealing a deal to replace one of the two trading locations it will lose on Swanston Street, but would not comment.

As well as being required to move from a two-level building at 15-19 Swanston, it is also being forced to vacate its store at the northern end of the strip on the corner of La Trobe Street, which will be demolished to make way for CBD North station.

Colliers International retail director Cam Taranto said the rail project was pushing retailers to open shops in other high-traffic locations such as Elizabeth and Bourke streets.

Another agent, Jarrod Herscu, said other retailers were taking advantage of the perceived disruption to secure better, long-term deals. Rozzi’s Italian Canteen recently leased an entire building at 157 Swanston at below market rates, Mr Herscu said.

Metro Rail confirmed it was in discussions with building owners.

The compulsory acquisition process was likely to be triggered early next year once planning approvals were received, a spokesman said.

Some CBD roads – including sections of Franklin and A’Beckett streets – will be permanently closed once tunnel work is underway.

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