Mirvac spends $333.5 million on build-to-rent complex at Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market

Mirvac Group is buying a controversial proposed Melbourne apartment tower from PDG Corporation – provided it can substantially up the density.

The listed property giant is paying $333.5 million for a yet to be constructed 38-storey complex at the Queen Victoria Market, which it hopes to configure with 490 build-to-rent apartments.

PDG would develop the asset which Mirvac is acquiring on a fund-through basis.

Mirvac’s build-to-rent scheme would replace a permitted plan to construct 320 standard apartments intended by PDG to have been offered to the public and sold down individually.

The residences formed part of a $450 million development which also includes a hotel and public space. The Queen Victoria Market itself is undergoing a $250 million refurbishment to modernise retail and warehouse areas.

PDG started construction on non-residential elements of the Munro site in January. Last month, it secured Veriu to operate the inn.

Mirvac announced today that the agreement with PDG is subject to conditions, including planning and redesign, “which will ensure the building delivers purpose-built, build-to-rent product”. Mirvac intends to retain the asset upon completion.

The dwellings are earmarked for part of a 6500 square metre block at the south-east corner of Queen and Therry streets, which the City of Melbourne acquired for $76 million in 2014, as part of plans to rejuvenate and extend the neighbouring market

The Munro site development will contain community and commercial spaces as well as apartments. A hotel component was leased last month to Veriu.

Vendor the Munro family, which held the site since 1910, rejected higher offers so as to sell it to the council for its idea.

City of Melbourne later engaged PDG, from the private sector, to develop part of the parcel with community facilities worth $90 million, including a 120-place childcare centre, gallery and theatre, as well as revenue-raising hospitality and retail areas.

Some 2500 sqm of open space and 500 underground car parks, specifically for market customers, formed part of the master-plan.

In exchange for constructing the commercial and public elements, PDG was controversially offered part of the Munro site to develop privately with a major skyscraper.

Last May, PDG won approval to construct two buildings, rising 10 and 38 storeys, and containing an 80-suite hotel and the 320 apartments – 56 of which had to be allocated as affordable housing.

An aerial image showing the proposed building towering over Queen Victoria Market sheds.

It is this residential component of the permit which Mirvac and PDG now seek to replace with something higher density (ie, the developers would redesign the approved 38-storey structure to fit 490 flats).

Colliers International’s Oliver Hay and John Marasco brokered the Mirvac deal.

Mirvac made reference to the Munro development at an investor presentation released to the market last week.

Last year, it set up a club to fund build-to-rent projects, quickly securing Clean Energy Finance Corporation as an investor. Last week Mirvac raised equity of $750 million to repay debt and invest in projects such as the Munro site build-to-rent complex.

Major developers including Salta Properties and Grocon are proposing build-to-rent facilities elsewhere in inner-Melbourne.

Grocon employed Bates Smart to design this 60-storey build-to-rent complex, with 400 dwellings, permitted for 260 City Road, Southbank.

“Renting has become a lifestyle choice for a much wider group of people who want to be closer to work, and other lifestyle amenities. We believe build-to-rent can revolutionise the rental experience with improved choice, quality and security of tenure,” Mirvac chief executive officer and managing director Susan Lloyd Hurwitz said

“Build-to-rent is one of the largest real estate asset classes in the world and entering into this asset class makes good business sense for Mirvac,” Ms Hurwitz added, “It will deliver a secure and valuable revenue stream, as well as presenting us with a new and growing customer base”

“We are excited to drive the establishment of the build-to-rent sector in Australia, for which we see enormous potential over time”.

Mirvac is developing a build-to-rent venture within its Indigo Pavilions project at Sydney’s Olympic Park, due for completion in 2021.

Marc Pallisco

A freelance property writer and analyst, Marc is a co-founder of realestatesource.com.au.

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