Former Royal Saxon Hotel, Melbourne, May be Replaced With Major Apartment Tower

Trading nowadays as the Toad Hall backpackers, the property was purchased by private investors in 2006 for $4.5 million, from the deceased estate of a family that owned it for several generations. Based on CBD land values of $10,000 a square metre, the site is estimated to be worth about $9 million.

The proposed apartment tower, having a floor area of greater than 25,000 square metres, needs approval by Mr Guy. It isn’t expected to be too controversial given the historic component facing Elizabeth Street will be retained. But because the site is not on a corner, apartments in the project risk losing natural light as sites around it are developed.

Across the road at 450 Elizabeth Street, a proposal to replace another backpackers venue with a 55-level, 541-unit residential tower, was also reviewed by the minister.

At 320 Queen Street, Mr Guy will decide whether the Celtic Club can replace its headquarters with a 266-unit hotel and residential building. The club lodged the application for the 48-level building after anticipating that a 43-level proposal, to be decided by the Melbourne City Council, would be declined.

Mr Guy recently approved a 749-unit apartment compound in Spencer Street, West Melbourne, and another, in Southbank, that will rob the million-dollar views enjoyed by occupants of Freshwater Place, renowned (but not for much longer) as the suburb’s most prestigious building.

The 154-year old Royal Saxon is around the corner from the Macs Hotel in Franklin Street – Melbourne’s oldest surviving purpose-built hotel in continuous use, according to council.

Because of the central role Elizabeth Street had from 1851, a number of pubs were developed (and have since been demolished) in the immediate area including the Federal Club Hotel, York Hotel, Victoria Hotel, The Old Lamb Inn, The Sir Walter Scott and Highland Chief.

Another historic hotel, the Stork, at 500 Elizabeth Street, is set to be replaced by a 67-level apartment building. That 1030 square metre site (incorporating the adjoining former Backpacker Auto Sales) was snapped up by builder The Brady Group after a heated auction four years ago.

Throughout that marketing campaign, the property was expected to sell for about $6.5 million, but instead it sold for $11.8 million.

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Marc Pallisco

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