Gavin King

TropicNow editor

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JCU set to start work on its CBD campus

The centre of Cairns is coming alive with a range of new developments, including the imminent start of construction on James Cook University's long-awaited CBD campus.


Construction work on James Cook University's $10 million Cairns city campus is set to ramp up in coming weeks in order to complete the project for the start of Semester 1 in February next year.

In the latest exciting development transforming the Cairns CBD, construction firms such as FKG Group are advertising for trades and services to help undertake the refurbishment work on an old government building at 36 Shields St.

Subcontractors have just a few days to left to submit their pricing offers to FKG Group - one of several companies vying to be named principal contractor - with submissions closing at 5pm on 6 October.

Painters, cabinetmakers, electricians, demolition specialists, tilers and audiovisual contractors are among the trades set to benefit from the project.

The 1000 sq/m campus at 36 Shields St - next to the School of Arts building currently being redeveloped by Cairns Regional Council - was designed by Cairns-based firm MMP Architects and will offer law, business and medical courses.

An estimated 300-400 students will utilise the campus, with the ground floor to feature a shopfront point-of-contact for student and public enquiries. After-hours MBA courses will be run at the campus in response to community demand.

It is the latest in a string of exciting projects set to the transform the Cairns CBD, including the Nova City towers, Cairns Aquarium, major hotel refurbishments, council's Shields St redevelopment and new hospitality offerings such as Three Wolves and a boutique bar and deli planned for the corner of Lake and Spence Sts.

JCU Vice Chancellor Professor Sandra Harding described the new campus as "another milestone in the growth of the University in Cairns".

JCU has been under pressure to open a CBD campus following the runaway success of CQUniversity's move into the Green Square building near the Esplanade.

"It’s wonderful for JCU to be extending its footprint into the heart of the city, and at such a fantastic location,” Prof Harding said.

Key features of the new campus will include:

  • A Collaborative Learning Area, offering the latest technology and design to promote flexible learning and innovation, including extremely high speed WiFi
  • Students and GP Registrars will be able to drop in to use computers and study in the CBD
  • A ‘moot court’ providing law students with practical courtroom training
  • The new GP Training program, Generalist Medical Training, will have its Cairns office located in the building
  • A state-of-the-art boardroom will offer teleconferencing and catering facilities, allowing JCU to engage more directly with business and the local community

The campus will also host short courses provided by JCU for companies seeking professional development for their staff.