IN THE week the Melbourne City Council legislated for higher-density development in the inner north-western suburbs, it can also be revealed Planning Minister Matthew Guy is reviewing plans to replace two historic West Melbourne factories with two landmark apartment buildings – the tallest soaring 44 levels.
The sites, at 371 – 379 Spencer Street and 83 - 113 Batman Street, will be combined to create a new village with a gross floor area of some 85,000 square metres – about the same size as the Rialto.
Proposed by local investment house Bennelong Group, two towers – one rising 39 levels, and another, 29, will be developed atop a five level podium which will include 548 car park bays and 223 bike spaces.
In total, the project will include 749 apartments and 235 square metres of retail space (the equivalent of two standard High Street style shops).
Apartments within the proposed development will capture views over the Melbourne Remand Centre toward Port Phillip Bay.
A Bennelong Group representative told Capital Gain that through a consultative process with government, it has created a high-quality but affordable proposal. It has been working on the village, which includes a 20-metre lap pool and a gym, for three years.
Once part of the West Melbourne rail yards, Bennelong acquired the sites from Multiplex in March 2006, as part of a $32 million portfolio.
Multiplex paid the Silman family $40 million about a year earlier for a much larger collection of adjoining sites. Batman Street is tree lined and terminates at Adderley Street which is also the Docklands border.
On Wednesday, the Melbourne City Council approved the Arden-Macaulay Structure Plan, aimed at populating the suburbs between North Melbourne (expected to rise in population from 5500 to 19,000) and Kensington (expected to rise from 3000 to 19,000).
Mr Guy, once dubbed in Parliament as the Liberal party's answer to Bart Simpson, must approve all major proposed developments of more than 25,000 square metres.