New plan for untouched Docklands precinct

Also today we are reporting Gurner and Qualitas are eyeing a $300 million inner-Sydney site.

A consortium comprising the Liberman family’s JGL Investments and Schwartz family office, amongst others, have relaunched plans to replace a 1.8 hectare piece of the Docklands precinct formerly known as Comtechport, then Digital Harbour, with a mixed-use village.

Known as City Harbour, the partnership has called in Gurner for design and marketing.

The 1.8 hectare Docklands block from the corner of Harbour Esplanade and Dudley Street.

The end value has been put at $1.75 billion.

Plans for up to six towers are expected to be lodged this quarter, the owner said.

Initial plans

City Harbour and Gurner said their proposal includes Melbourne’s largest wellness, recovery and performance centre.

The majority of the project though will be residential, including Build to Rent; over 1200 dwellings are anticipated.

Shops, offices, a 200-suite hotel and sky high hospitality is earmarked too, as is a public space Gurner director Tim Gurner, also an ex-Docklands resident, said will be a world class tourist attraction and something the city has never seen.

The Docklands site, 208-226 Harbour Esplanade, also fronts Dudley and La Trobe streets and Wurundjeri Way.

Known as Comtechport when Docklands was master-planned over 20 years ago, it spread 4.4 hectares before pieces were sliced off for offices.

City Holdings is also backed by David Napier, an executive director, Michael Kohn and Russell Nisbet.

Qualitas director Andrew Schwartz, Carol Schwartz, and her husband Alan, form part of the ownership consortium too.

Leon Kemplar and the late Morris Joffe also held part of Digital Harbour when it bought into the Docklands site in December, 2000 (story continues below).

Tim Gurner at the Docklands site.

Trying again

Comtechport and Digital Harbour were master-planned to become a campus style-based business park.

City Harbour recently sold four offices in the area once known as Digital Harbour.

In 2011, then-planning minister Matthew Guy rezoned the block to allow City Harbour, a company then known as Digital Harbour, to develop residential.

Two years later, a proposal was put forward containing buildings between 14-34 floors.

With the same elements as today’s announcement – shops, offices, hotels and apartments – it carried a $1b end value.

In 2017 another mixed-use plan was put forward, which also didn’t proceed.

Parts of the holding however have made way for offices, including four campus style buildings at 1010 La Trobe St which the consortium divested in February for $150m, and 990 La Trobe St, sold to the Motor Accident Commission of South Australia for $76.5m in 2011.

A 22 storey commercial tower, 1000 La Trobe St, was also delivered, by Poly, on a 6007 sqm site purchased from City Harbour in 2017.

Tim Gurner is expected to hold a half-stake in 202-226 Harbour Esp.

In the immediate area, a site known as 695-699 La Trobe St, Salta is planning a 29 level hotel and residential tower.

Grocon, with GIC, has also earmarked a product of this type, on a 4000 sqm block, 685-691 La Trobe St, purchased from the AFL in mid-2020.

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Marc Pallisco

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