Wesfarmers subsidiary Bunnings is playing property developer, improving the profitability of a prominent Doncaster site it bought to build a hardware store.
Its 1.1 hectare site, abutting the massive Westfield Shoppingtown complex, may now be replaced with a $200 million mixed use complex including a multi-level Bunnings store, car park, and 350-unit residential tower, it is speculated could rise some 20 levels.
Wesfarmers paid $25 million for the collection of adjoining properties bound by Doncaster Road, Tower and Council streets in 2011, saying at the time the supersite would only be replaced with a hardware store, to complement the adjoining shopping centre.
However the land is within a precinct defined within the Doncaster Hill local council planning scheme as appropriate for high density residential redevelopment.
Bunnings declined to answer any related to scale of the proposed development, issuing a brief statement saying, if approved, the project would create 200 jobs.
It also said it had been working closely on the proposal with City of Manningham.
However, council said it is unable to comment on “rumour, speculation and what ifs” until the application is lodged, which is expected to be in a few weeks.
Many apartment complexes under construction near the site, predominantly along Doncaster, Elgar and Tram roads, capture postcard CBD views.
In the 1990s, another site off nearby Williamsons Road made way for Melbourne’s first major apartment complexes, in what was considered a test case for high density development in the suburbs.
While generally encouraging apartment construction since that time, however, various levels of government have failed to fund a rail extension to Doncaster. Earlier this year, two Manningham City councillors suggested retail giant Westfield should contribute to the cost of any future line.
Elsewhere in the suburb, 15 kilometres east of town, developer Mirvac is expected to replace the outgoing Eastern Golf Course with a $1 billion-plus village of shops, offices and low, medium and high density housing.
Last week, Coles said it was a reluctant property developer, stepping in to start construction of new supermarkets because developers hadn’t.
Coles, and rival Woolworth’s impressive property investment portfolio includes factories, fast food restaurants, hospitality venues and petrol stations.
Woolworths is behind a major mixed use project in North Melbourne that will include two major apartment buildings rising ten and 16 levels. It paid interests associated with motorcycle retailer Peter Stevens $21 million for the Vaughan Terrace and Canning Street sites in late 2010.