Blue Earth move on Coburg, South Melbourne projects

The Coburg proposal from Rodda Street (left) and a walkway connecting the project to Bridges Reserve.

Michael and Omran Dib’s Blue Earth Group is seeking to develop 468 dwellings across buildings up to 11 levels at the former Coburg High School on Bell Street.

Estimated to carry a $105.3 million construction cost, the proposal (artist’s impression, top) will contain 511 car parks and three visitor spaces.

Blue Earth is planning 468 dwellings on the former Coburg High School site.

It also includes some commercial components – c400 square metres of retail, half of which is expected to be for a food and beverage occupier, a 276 sqm gym/wellness centre, and 212 sqm co-work area.

Two gardens – of 931 sqm and 261 sqm – and a 743 sqm piazza form part of the design too.

Artist’s impression of the Coburg proposal from Bell Street.

Development details

Seven townhouses, each with three bedrooms, would be developed under Blue Earth’s proposal.

Of the apartments – 176 will be configured with one bedroom, 266 will have two with the balance offering three.

These will be contained in three buildings of varying heights; the tallest components, 11 and eight storeys, will face Bridges Reserve.

The shortest structures, two levels, front Rodda St.

Blue Earth paid Ryman Healthcare $23.1m for the 1.2 hectare site, 81A Bell St, last March.

The proposal comes six years since a former owner, Double LZ, won permission to construct 391 units on the block, in three towers rising from eight to 11 levels.

In 2010, 520 dwellings were permitted in numerous buildings, the tallest, 13 floors (story continues below).

The 40 storey Normanby Road investment is expected to be all-electric.

Local snares South Melbourne BTR tower

Meanwhile, Blue Earth has sold an unbuilt South Melbourne apartment tower to 10 month old Macquarie Asset Management backed Build to Rent provider, Local.

As part of the fund-through deal, the vendor will now deliver the c$280m project, which is expected to be all-electric.

With 421 dwellings over 40 floors, the design also includes a resident-only cinema, dining room, dog wash, games room, gym and yoga studio.

A café/wine bar and space for co-working forms part of the 800 sqm of communal area too. Outside, the asset will include a pool, playground and lounge – an additional 600 sqm.

Blue Earth purchased the South Melbourne site (marked) in 2015.

“We are thrilled to be working with Blue Earth together with Hamilton Marino and their broader project team, which has a longstanding track record of delivering quality apartment projects in Melbourne for nearly 30 years,” Local co-chief executive officer, Dan McLennan, said.

“The market fundamentals for build to rent are particularly strong and continuing to gain pace,” he added.

“The scale of this particular project supports our model of incorporating ‘salt and pepper’ Impact Housing in our developments and is just one of many BTR projects currently in the Local pipeline,” according to the executive.

Construction of the South Melbourne project, on 2640 sqm at 245-251 Normanby Rd, should be complete in 2025. Colliers was the marketing agency. It sold the Coburg block to Blue Earth as well.

Local also owns the ex-TNT factory, on Macaulay Rd, at the Kensington/North Melbourne border, where it is planning 425 BTR units in six towers, the tallest of eight floors. With an as yet undisclosed third project, its portfolio now carries an end value over $600m.

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Marc Pallisco

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