End of an era with Sofia restaurant redevelopment approved

The Hub can be razed as it is classified contributory (not significant) within a heritage overlay precinct. Images: Google Street View.


The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has given Pomeroy Pacific the green light to replace Camberwell’s Sofia restaurant and a neighbouring site with a seven storey complex containing about 40 apartments.

The ex-State Savings Bank has stood as a front facade for over 25 years.

As part of the plan, the c1903 The Hub building at 853-861 Burke Road, on the south west corner of Mayston Street, will be razed.

However the front façade of the abutting property, the c1906 ex-State Savings Bank at 851 Burke Rd, is heritage protected and would stay.

Pomeroy chief executive officer Mark Pomeroy said dwellings within the DKO Architecture penned development (artist’s impression, top) will be offered for sale this year.

The project could mark the end of a 53 year era in the popular retail strip, with Sofia not re-committing to a ground floor hospitality component.

The restaurant does however have outlets at Burwood East and Croydon.

Proposal to proceed this time

The approval comes 18 months after VCAT rejected an eight level proposal which would have contained 43 dwellings.

In 2017, an application lodged by Sofia’s operators and property owners, Sam, Rocky and Harry Raydon, unsuccessfully sought to fit 59 then 52 flats, also within an eight floor structure.

The trio actually held a redevelopment permit in 2009, allowing a seven storey, 82-suite hotel.

Elsewhere in the street, Hacer and Time & Place last October outlaid c$25m for a 2090 sqm block, part of which was the ex-Le Pine funeral home at the south west corner of Victoria Road, which was offered permit ready for a seven level mixed-use but predominantly residential complex (story continues below).

A seven level proposal earmarked to replace 979-981 Burke Road, Camberwell, part of which was a Le Pine funeral home.

What is planned

Mr Pomeroy said the VCAT decision ends a long battle with the City of Boroondara, which repeatedly rejected proposals this height.

“Sofia has been an institution of the area for many years, and the development will see the revitalisation of an important heritage façade that has been requiring love for many years,” he added.

“At ground level, we will have a restaurant and wine bar, along with other retail offerings,” according to the executive.

West facing upper floor dwellings would also offer postcard views of the CBD, 10 kilometres away.

“Achieving a permit like this requires the patience, strategy and an unwavering commitment to surround yourself with the best of the best,” Mr Pomeroy said.

“Having failed to obtain VCAT support originally, we developed a strategy with a clear plan as to how [we] would achieve our goals,” he added.

“Rather than designing first and seeking expert support afterward, Pomeroy ran a comprehensive architectural design competition, followed by engaging experts across all key disciplines,” according to the developer.

“This ensured that the design evolved from the ground up with the support of a range of third-party experts and ultimately…VCAT”.

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Marc Pallisco

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