Review of Melbourne apartment projects

The Barak Building.

Record low interest rates with first home owner grants are fuelling an apartment building boom.

But not all developers could get projects out of the ground.

Domain took a look at some of the proposals started and stopped since the Spring, 2010 Apartment Guide.

Carlton & United Breweries site, Carlton

No stranger to a Melbourne landmark – Eureka Tower and Rialto amongst them – Grocon unveiled two distinctive residential projects at its Carlton & United Breweries site at Carlton, near the city’s top tip.

The first is an 89-level, 280 metre tower, to be branded DCM Building in recognition of architect Denton Corker Marshall.

With 800 flats, it would rise 280 metres

This would make it a similar height as Eureka – but much denser (that tower has 550 dwellings).

The second Carlton tower Grocon has proposed, The Portrait, will rise 32 floors, contain 530 units, and feature a 100-metre high depiction of indigenous leader William Barak.

This structure has a direct line of sight with the Shrine of Remembrance near South Yarra.

It will go by the address of 551 Swanston St.

The developer’s chief executive Daniel Grollo said “the Shrine is about honouring a great set of Australians who made a sacrifice to Australia and this [The Portrait] is also about honouring a great set of Australians who made a sacrifice”.

Three more buildings are earmarked for the 1.6ha former CUB site, which Grocon acquired from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology for $39 million in October, 2006.

The developer is responsible for the multi-building renewal of the former Queen Victoria Hospital site, near the State Library, an Elizabeth St public housing project, also in town, and the HM@S Beach apartments in Port Melbourne.

It was recently approved to construct a $350m village around Footscray train station.

2. Eden, Abbotsford

Even an objection from a neighbouring council wasn’t enough to stop a controversial Abbotsford project, Eden (pictured, top).

Yarra City Council and Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal both cited history when approving the Honeywell offices at 677-679 Victoria St be replaced.

The land had been noted as a strategic site and its redevelopment has been a prospect since 1999, mayor Jane Garrett said.

At the eastern edge of the suburb on the banks of the Yarra River, the 11-level complex, set atop a four level podium, will rob views from low-density housing in neighbouring Kew.

Eden is earmarked to be the tallest of three buildings which will rise from the site.

Two restaurants, a café, office, medical centre and convenience store are also mooted as is a bike path which will connect the area to the Capital City Trail.

All up the community is set for about 586 dwellings.

Hampton and Industry Superannuation Property Trust expect to start building in the third quarter.

The former paid Becton $30m for the property in 2008; it contains three low rise commercial buildings.

The builder later sold one of the offices, 675 Victoria St, for $12m

In 2009 it sought to have the pocket gazetted to Richmond, which is more valuable than Abbotsford.

More than 1400 objections were received Eden.

3. Stonington, Malvern

Apartment construction around Malvern mansion Stonington will finally begin, according to the latest owner Ever Bright.

The former government house, then on three hectares, controversially fell into private hands just before Christmas, 2006, when Deakin University sold it to Hamton and Industry Superannuation Property Trust for $30m.

The pair then flipped the historic home to art dealer Rod Menzies for $18m.

Cumnock at 160 The Avenue sold for $3.3 million in 2009.

They then obtained a development permit for the balance 1.5ha – and in 2008 sold it for $47m to Ashington – where Mark Bouris was once a non-executive director.

Control changed several times last year before the property was acquired by China-based Ever Brighton last September, for $30m.

A spokesperson for the owner said construction will begin shortly.

The project will contain 31 apartments, 22 townhouses, 12 “townhomes” and 14 standalone residences.

Many buyers acquired the dwellings off-the-plan from Ashington.

The Kirner government gave Deakin the site in 1991; it had not long earlier merged with Victoria College.

The university justified the 2006 sale, saying it would use the funds for research and teaching programs it wouldn’t have had the resources to achieve.

4. Cumnock House and Mt Ridley College, Parkville (now Allure)

Construction of Allure in Parkville, opposite Royal Park, recently began, on part of the former Ridley College.

Drapac acquired the 5000 sqm school from the Anglican Church for $9m in 2007.

Shortly after it banked $3.3m selling the historic Cumnock mansion after a renovation.

The balance of The Avenue site is making way for townhouses which were offered off-the-plan from $1.5m.


1 Bay Street Brighton

The future of the iconic Spanish Mission mansion at 1 Bay St, Brighton, is unknown.

Its for sale right now – seeking a private buyer or a developer which might replace the waterfront block with flats.

The dwelling was once owned by Olympian and Gold Coast mayor Ron Clarke.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal recently granted permission for a three storey apartment complex.

Agents are quoting $12m for the 1933 sqm site.

Wrap Southbank

Despite reportedly being 90pc sold, Baracon didn’t start buildng Southbank’s Wrap tower last year – instead offering it for sale, then withdrawing it.

It is understood the group is now reworking a permit for more apartments.

The City Rd site spreads 1344 sqm.

Wrap was approved for 41-floors and 285 flats.

The suburb is one of Melbourne’s most dense.

Nearby, Central Equity is replacing Crown Casino’s former training college at 141-145 City Rd with a 43-level residential project containing 513 dwellings.

Offshore builder DEC however has suspended its $85m Verge complex also on City Rd.

3181 Prahran

A sustainable apartment complex with hanging gardens draping has been paused indefinitely.

The building contracts have been cancelled.

3181 Prahran was to have risen eight storeys at the corner of Commercial Road and Grattan St, and have 45 flats – the cheapest asking $425,000.

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Marc Pallisco

A former property analyst and print journalist, Marc is the publisher of