“This is a JobMaker investment which will generate employment for thousands of hard-working West Australians, it will boost those businesses that are already in the CBD and it will drive new businesses to open,” he said.
Premier Mark McGowan said the state government was tipping $150 million in grant funding and offering the land for the project.
He said as part of the deal the current ECU site will revert back to WA government control and the state would now start ‘master planning’.
ECU will tip in $300 million for the project, while the federal government will contribute $245 million as part of the Perth City Deal.
The vertical campus was expected to pump $1.5 billion into the local economy and create more than 3100 jobs during construction.
ECU vice-chancellor Steve Chapman said the city deal model was achieving great outcomes for the university and the city.
“This is an outstanding result for ECU and for the state. We are delighted to be working with all levels of government to create Perth’s first comprehensive university campus in the heart of the city,” he said.
“It is a transformational project which will change the face of our city and shape the future for ECU and its students.
“ECU City Campus will naturally be a drawcard for students and academics, but it will also provide enormous opportunities for industry integration, including areas like cybersecurity ensuring the development of a future-fit workforce.”
In October 2019 the state and federal governments agreed to make a CBD-based uni campus central to the Perth City Deal but it was delayed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Other universities including Murdoch and Curtin expressed their interest in a CBD campus but ECU had backing from the WA Governor Kim Beazley who argued the relocation of WA Academy of Performing Arts would be a great move for the city. Curtin and Murdoch will, however, expand their existing CBD footprint under the city deal.
According to a joint state and federal government statement, they expect the uni will put in more than 300 public performances in the Perth CBD every year.
Professor Champman said every evening at 7.30pm there would be three or four performances by students.
“It will be like a mini Fringe [festival] happening in the city throughout the entire year,” he said.
Planning Minister Rita Saffioti said some of the Mount Lawley campus’ facilities such as theatres and studios would be used to expand neighbouring Mount Lawley Senior High School but conceded some development would occur on the massive inner city site.
“There are a couple of things we know are a priority, Mount Lawley high school currently is bursting at the seams so we know there will need to be an expansion,” she said.
“There will be some development but primarily we also see this as an opportuntiy to address what we see as another issue and that is very busy high schools around that area and the fact they need an ability to grow.”
Hamish Hastie is WAtoday’s business reporter.