Fishermans Bend Innovation Precinct unveiled for ex-GMH site

Artist’s impression of the ex-GMH site in 2050.

The state government has committed an initial $179.4 million to develop the ex-General Motors Holden site as the Fishermans Bend Innovation Precinct.

The Innovation Precinct (centre) occupies nearly 15 per cent of the Fishermans Bend Employment Precinct.

The Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions is hoping to deliver the first buildings within three years.

The Thistlethwaite Street site (shaded) is in Montague, permitted for major residential development.

By 2050, it anticipates dozens of structures – a mix of offices and high-tech industrial – will have been constructed.

The Montague Street parcel (shaded) spreads 663 sqm.

The government paid $130m for the 32 hectare GMH plant in 2016.

The land is at the centre of a 230ha zone bound by the Bolte and West Gate bridges, Williamstown Road and the Yarra River, known in planning circles as the Fishermans Bend Employment Precinct and expected to accommodate 40,000 jobs.

About 80,000 residents are earmarked to live within four other Fishermans Bend zones covering 250ha – Lorimer, Montague, Sandridge and Wirraway.

Fishermans Bend Innovation Precinct

The University of Melbourne has already committed to 7.2ha of the GMH site with plans for a $2b campus – comprising the Melbourne School of Engineering and spaces for the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning.

A Social Centre within the car maker’s c1946 canteen is also earmarked.

The tallest proposed buildings could rise 141m – or about 40 floors.

“The Victorian government has a clear vision for the Innovation Precinct as an internationally renowned centre of innovation in advanced manufacturing, engineering and design,” DJPR said.

It will target other education-based occupiers and private sector businesses from large research houses, business incubators and accelerators to start-ups.

“The Fishermans Bend innovation hub is a really exciting opportunity for Melbourne’s long-term competitiveness as a city in attracting industries focused around advanced engineering, technology, research and development and in turn the city’s ability to continue attracting highly skilled talent,” according to Emmetts managing director, Charles Emmett, who is co-marketing two Capital City 1 zoned sites in the area – a 663 sqm parcel in Montague St and a 507 sqm block at Thistlethwaite St.

“To have the opportunity to house this kind of industry at scale within a stone’s throw to the CBD and benefiting from the level of connectivity that the precinct enjoys including access to Melbourne Airport is something that is incredibly difficult to replicate in other urban areas both nationally and internationally”, he said.

“It is also exactly what the broader Fishermans Bend precinct requires in order to evolve into a truly mixed-use urban precinct as opposed to a purely residential one” (story continues below).

Fishermans Bend is planned with five zones – the Employment Precinct (outlined, red), Lorimer (blue), Montague (teal), Sandridge (orange) and Wirraway.

Fishermans Bend Employment Precinct

Boeing, Siemens and Toyota are amongst the Fishermans Bend Employment Precinct’s high-profile occupiers.

Greystar recently acquired a Montague block for a 722-dwelling Build to Rent project,

A federal government Science and Technology facility is also based there.

Following the $179.4m DJPR commitment, the government expects the private sector to start repurposing neighbouring product.

Incorporating the residential zones, according to a 2018 Colliers research report, major landowners – in many cases for funds management clients – include Goodman, with c33ha, Dexus (5ha), AMP Capital (3.3ha), Salta (2.9ha), GPT (2.5ha) and Altis (2.4ha).

Fishermans Bend Employment Precinct is about four kilometres south west of the CBD.

Fishermans Bend residential

Mr Emmett said that from a residential real estate perspective, numerous developments have been completed in the Montague precinct, which is closest to the CBD.

“Several other major projects are in planning or underway with major investment from groups like Greystar, Gurner, Samma Properties, R.Corporation and Beulah,” he added.

“The innovation hub will act as an activity-centre-bookend to the CBD, providing additional purpose for the precinct’s redevelopment, which will be really important in attracting office and hotel development in additional to residential,” according to the executive.

Colleague Andrew Milligan said there are several major unsatisfied development site requirements in the precinct from residential developers seeking to create Build to Rent and build-to-sell product.

“To date, there haven’t been too many office development site requirements however, as the innovation hub evolves, we anticipate there will be strong demand for office development sites in the area,” he added.

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Marc Pallisco

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