Arden development cycle clicks into gear with Mustang inspired VACC HQ

The facade of the next VACC House, inspired by a Ford Mustang grille.

Construction of the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce’s headquarters has begun.

At a socially distanced event last month, the motor industry employer association’s president, Fury Bortolotto, turned a sod, symbolically kicking off building at the site of the next VACC House: 644-658 Victoria Street, North Melbourne.

VACC intends to move into 650 Victoria Street, North Melbourne, late next year.

For investors, the ceremony also marks the beginning of a development cycle at Arden – an industrial pocket within the suburb which the state government has in recent years been planning for urban renewal.

Accord Property Group just started seeking tenants for an office it will develop on Laurens St, next door to the prominent Is Don is Good silos.

Twelve months ago, Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC, with Grocon, agreed to pay c$135 million for a collection of 12 parcels close to that: spreading 1.5 hectares they are expected to make way for about five c17-level towers as part of a Build to Rent based project.

A couple of hundred metres north from there, Lechte Corporation in September unveiled plans for a c-14-storey apartment complex at a Macaulay Road parcel near the north east corner of Haines St.

These properties, like VACC’s, will be walking distance to Arden train station, under construction as part of the $11 billion Metro Rail, which will connect the precinct to South Yarra via the city and University of Melbourne.

VACC’s North Melbourne HQ

Penned by Gray Puksand with a façade inspired by a Ford Mustang grille, VACC’s North Melbourne base, at the north east corner of Lothian St, will rise four floors over a three level, 91-bay basement car park.

All up it will contain 9725 sqm of area.

The office space will be rated A-grade and offer Melbourne CBD and Port Phillip Bay views.

The exterior will use masonry to match neighbouring terrace homes.

Building cost has been put at between $30-$50m and completion should take a year, the owner said.

The office will then go by the address of 650 Victoria St.

VACC paid $8.8m for the 1340 sqm Mixed Use zoned land making way for the complex in mid-2018.

Not long earlier, it offloaded its rundown south Melbourne headquarters of 60 years – 464 St Kilda Road, which it part-occupied – to Abacus Property Group and Singapore’s Wing Tai Holdings for $95.4m (story continues below).

Daniel Besen is also proposing an inner north Melbourne HQ, at 1-9 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy.

Arden is about two kilometres north west of the CBD.

Current HQ ageing, keeping and sourcing tenants is onerous and time-consuming: VACC

The St Kilda Rd building is ageing and “the need to keep sourcing tenants was onerous and time consuming,” the association said.

Morry Schwartz has pitched an eight level Collingwood headquarters which would incorporate the ex-British Crown Hotel.

“Even looking at a modernisation of VACC House would have had severe implications for members’ funds, with an unknown projection of future tenancy rates,” chief executive officer, Geoff Gwilym, added of the group’s decision to relocate.

“Ironically the coronavirus situation has highlighted the need for VACC to reduce its office footprint and not rely on rental incomes as a major income stream,’ according to the businessman.

The North Melbourne property will include a ground level atrium to showcase new vehicle technologies.

It is also designed with electric charging stations, end-of-trip facilities and terraces.

“This is a great step forward for VACC, both in recognising our past and in preparing for our future,” Mr Bortolotto said.

“The building will have a look and feel that talks to the future of the automotive industry” he added.

“This is so important, especially if we want to attract the right people”.

Owner occupiers drive inner-north building burst

The VACC is not the only owner-occupier to be developing a headquarters in Melbourne’s northern fringe.

In Fitzroy, Daniel Besen appointed Oslo based Snøhetta to design a five-storey brick mixed-use but predominantly office building at 1-9 Gertrude St, walking distance to Parliament station.

In neighbouring Collingwood, publisher Morry Schwartz is intending an eight floor Denton Corker Marshall commercial development for his publishing businesses.

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Marc Pallisco

A former property analyst and journalist, Marc is the publisher of realestatesource.com.au.

Marc Pallisco