ARA Asset Management proposes 21-level office as part of $800m Southgate makeover

The redevelopment will contain rooftop parks and a 21-storey office blocking HWT Tower’s view of the Yarra River.

ARA Australia, the local arm of Singapore’s listed ARA Asset Management, intends to build a 21-level office as part of an $800 million makeover of its two hectare Southgate complex on the banks of Melbourne’s Yarra River.

An application lodged with planning minster Richard Wynne also proposes a “re-invigoration” of the centre’s shopping and dining precinct.

ARA is proposing a 2000 sqm park and to better connect Southgate to its neighbours.

Infrastructure works “to better connect the parcel to its new Southbank neighbours” are planned, too, in what the owner describes as “a city shaping project” with “significant public benefit”.

In April, Beulah International was approved to develop what will be the tallest skyscraper in the Southern Hemisphere on a BMW dealership at nearby 118 City Road – opposite Australia 108, currently Melbourne’s highest building.

OSK, which like Beulah is Malaysia-backed, is constructing the $2.8 billion Melbourne Square village in the vicinity.

Last week, however, Chip Eng Seng Corporation, which is also Singaporean listed, and trades as CEL Australia here, temporarily cancelled marketing its $140m FIFTEEN85 multi-tower residential complex at 15-85 Gladstone Street, South Melbourne – about two kilometres from Southgate.

ARA grows its Melbourne city fringe portfolio by $1.1bn since February

ARA paid Dexus $578m for the 76,000 sqm Southgate complex almost four years ago – $62m more than the June, 2016, book value.

As well as the three level shopping centre, it includes two A-grade offices – known as the Herald and Weekly Times Tower (40 City Road) and IBM Building (60 City Road) – and a large basement car park.

Toward the north east most edge of Southbank, it abuts Melbourne’s Arts Precinct and overlooks Flinders Street Station and the CBD.

In February, ARA with Canadian institutional fund QuadReal Property Group paid Time & Place and Golden Age Group $328m on a funds through basis for the 10-level, 26,200 sqm Premium grade Victoria Place office in East Melbourne.

Three months ago it acquired a majority share in logistics giant LOGOS Group.

ARA’s office will stare down Elizabeth Street

ARA’s proposed glass Southgate office – the fourth unveiled in Melbourne since April to feature balconies – will be riverside, specifically on airspace between the Quay West apartment building and Langham Hotel.

With 39,000 sqm of area it should be prominent to south-bound commuters on Elizabeth Street, appearing to the left of the Flinders Street Station clock tower – blocking the HWT building.

“The new office tower will feature leading edge sustainability and technology inclusions and has been designed to complement the existing…towers on the site,” the landlord said.

…and be surrounded by retail spaces and 2000 sqm park

An extended ground floor retail area will have a c2000 sqm park on its rooftop accessed from the river promenade, St Kilda Road and Arts Precinct.

A three level podium will rise beside this public space, each floor containing smaller gardens.

“Central to the vision for the new Southgate will be creating an all-day lifestyle destination that welcomes everyone, rewards visitors with a dynamic experience and meets the needs of customers,” the developer said.

“This will be achieved by incorporating a range of casual and formal dining options; on-site conveniences such as a medical centre, food hall and supermarket; everyday essentials including a pharmacy, newsagent and barber; and added amenity such as a business and events centre and exhibition space”.

ARA is intending to build about 10,000 sqm of retail at Southgate.

Not far away, the state government is beautifying City Road around Dodds Street, Southbank Boulevard and the Sturt Street tram super-stop.

Two years ago it made a major commercial property purchase in this pocket, spending $95m on the outgoing Carlton & United Breweries headquarters at 2 Southbank Boulevard.

Behind the Arts Centre, that office will be repurposed into a public space with a new walkway connecting it to Southgate.

The office balcony: a 2020 trend

Since the start of April, we have reported about four proposed Melbourne offices designed with balconies.

Charter Hall has earmarked two on neighbouring city sites, 555 Collins Street and 55 King Street.

A recent application by Mirvac to Mr Wynne for a 31-storey commercial building at 383 La Trobe Street also includes outdoor areas.

In Blackburn, 16 kilometres east of the CBD, Pace Developments last month unveiled a commercial building with balconies, too.

Victoria Place will be constructed with terraces, including on its rooftop.

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Marc Pallisco

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