Grocon paying AFL c$67m for site abutting Marvel Stadium

Daniel Grollo (right) with Hillary Clinton (orange), former prime minister Julia Gillard (centre) and ex-opposition leader, Kim Beazley (left), at the launch of Grocon’s Pixel building, on the Carlton & United Breweries site, in July, 2010.

Grocon is paying the AFL $67 million for a site abutting Marvel Stadium which could make way for a major tower with offices and build-to-rent components.

In an off-market deal, first reported by The Australian last night, it is understood a Singapore-backed group is helping fund the purchase of 685-691 La Trobe Street.

In 1997, Bruno Grollo unveiled plans for a 678m landmark (left). In 2006 his company completed the 297m Eureka Tower in Southbank (right).

Last December, the Melbourne company directed by Daniel Grollo united with GIC (formerly known as Government of Singapore Investment Corporation) – to buy a collection of North Melbourne properties – paying $135m.

Part of that 1.5 hectare block, abutting the proposed Arden station, is also earmarked for build-to-rent projects.

It is speculated the AFL would have a headquarters within Grocon’s proposed Marvel site redevelopment.

Sites surrounding the stadium – including AFL House at 140 Harbour Esplanade – have been earmarked by the state government for activation and renewal (refer below).

Those with longer memories may remember Daniel’s father, Bruno, in 1997 controversially proposed what would have been Australia’s tallest building, rising 678 metres, at a Batman’s Hill, Docklands, on the opposite side of the stadium to the site it is acquiring.

To put the scale of that project (which would have been dubbed Grollo Tower) in perspective, Burj Khalifa is 828m.

AFL at Marvel

The occupier has previously described its double storey base, AFL House, as under-utilised.

After taking over long-term ownership of the facility in 2016 – it put forward a proposal to replace its office with an 11-storey hotel containing shops and a ballroom which could accommodate the Brownlow Medal count.

As part of that plan, the state government would contribute land under the Bolte Bridge abutting Ron Barassi Senior Park, for a replacement association headquarters (story continues below).

Both properties would have been controlled by a ground lease expiring in 2057.

Late last year the AFL agreed to buy the 4000 sqm 685-691 La Trobe Street plot from China-based owners – with the intention of occupying space within any redevelopment (this land had previously been permitted to make way for a 12-level, 38,350 sqm office).

It is this parcel which has now been sold on to Grocon.

State government at Marvel

In mid-2018 the state government paid NRMA $100m for 160 Harbour Esplanade, a low-rise office occupied by Channel 7, next door to AFL House.

The strategic purchase – it is master-planning a renewal of the stadium precinct – also gave it 6701 sqm of waterfront land.

Privately owned properties immediately north and east of #160 are also undeveloped.

Last year, real estate agents began seeking pre-commitments for a 22-level office at 1000 La Trobe Street, opposite the stadium site.

Lacrosse – the high-rise apartment building which was the scene of a combustible cladding-related fire six years ago – is also in the area which will be affected by Grocon’s proposal.

Nine months ago, restaurants along Central Pier – which extends from Harbour Esplanade into Victoria Harbour – were suddenly closed citing structural safety issues.

This finger has long been anticipated as the site to accommodate a design landmark such as a Sydney Opera House.

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Marc Pallisco

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

Marc Pallisco