Funding milestone reached on NAIF loan to Townsville student complex

The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) is ready for funds to flow to support the construction of James Cook University’s new student accommodation facility in Townsville.

The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) is ready for funds to flow to support the construction of James Cook University’s new student accommodation facility in Townsville.

Construction is well underway on the complex which will house more than 400 students and provide contemporary and affordable student accommodation, featuring individual study bedrooms, high-quality communal facilities, and a centralised, ‘masterchef’-style kitchen and dining space.

NAIF is supporting the project with a $46 million loan, which is in addition to NAIF’s loan towards JCU’s Technology Innovation Complex, also to be built on the Bebegu Yumba (Townsville) campus.

NAIF works with proponents to encourage and ensure that NAIF’s financial support for infrastructure projects will help bring a positive impact to local communities, provide positive Indigenous outcomes, and support the region and northern Australia as a whole.

A total of 18 project loan agreements worth a combined $1.3 billion have now reached contractual close between NAIF and borrowers, meaning funds are committed and both parties are bound to the loan terms and conditions. Importantly, reaching contractual close is a key stage of economic enablement, where design and construction activities begin and jobs are created.

JCU’s new student accommodation complex is a crucial element of the renewal of JCU’s Bebegu Yumba campus. The project is forecast to create around 150 construction jobs, with an estimated 85 per cent of subcontractors and suppliers locally sourced. The building is due to open in first Semester 2022.

Welcoming the milestone, NAIF CEO Chris Wade said: “NAIF has been a long-term supporter of JCU’s exciting development plans. With construction work well underway, it is fantastic that NAIF’s funding will shortly be available to be drawn on as required. The project is an example of NAIF working with partners to bring positive impact and help bring high-quality infrastructure to the region.”

JCU Vice Chancellor Professor Sandra Harding said the new student accommodation will be a major drawcard for students who are looking to live on campus.

“The student accommodation complex will be highly attractive to students and is the first construction project in TropiQ, Townsville’s Tropical Intelligence & Health Precinct.

“It will contribute to a more vibrant and dynamic campus and provides a timely boost for the region’s economy,” Professor Harding said.

NAIF’s support for new infrastructure in Townsville extends beyond the two James Cook University projects with funding also provided to the North Queensland Cowboys’ Community, Training and High-Performance Centre ($20 million loan) and $19.75m support for Mater Health Services’ hospital redevelopment.

NAIF has approved more than $2.8 billion in loans to infrastructure projects across northern Australia, with $1 billion of that to central and northern Queensland projects.

NAIF’s investment is forecast to support around 9,000 jobs, $5.27 billion in capital value and generate around $8.8 billion in economic benefit to the north.

Legislation has been recently introduced to the Australian Parliament to extend NAIF until 2026 and provide more flexibility and tools to continue to support the development of northern Australia.