Pace proposes office on Blackburn’s ex-Lexus, Leader and cordial maker Cottee’s site

The six level office earmarked for 160 Whitehorse Road, Blackburn.

Pace Development Group intends to build a high-end office on part of an east Melbourne site once controlled by Lexus of Blackburn and well before that, cordial maker Cottee’s General Foods.

At 160 Whitehorse Road, Blackburn, the proposed six-level complex will contain 8,318 square metres of area.

The average office floor-plate will be 1200 sqm – which is large by suburban market standards.

The rooftop terrace at the proposed Pace of Blackburn office.

A basement will fit 272 car parks.

The ground level will be configured with shops connecting it to a seven storey apartment complex, next door.

These buildings form part of Pace of Blackburn, a $200 million mixed-use project with two more residential towers, of seven and eight floors.

All up the village will include about 3939 sqm of retail with 13 suites, a supermarket and a gym.

End of trip facilities at the mooted Pace of Blackburn office.

Blackburn is about 16 kilometres from the CBD.

Decade of change for 160 Whitehorse Road, Blackburn

More than a decade ago the property making way for Pace of Blackburn was owner-occupied by News Corp Australia for its local Leader Newspaper division.

Pace of Blackburn, with an end value of $200 million, will contain three apartment buildings, an office and 3939 square metres of retail.

The media giant sold it in 2010 after relocating staff to a nearby site it also held.

The buyer, prestige car dealer Lexus which traded from the neighbouring 146 Whitehorse Road – paid $11.4 million, also with the intention to occupy.

Instead, in 2015 it relisted the 8767 sqm parcel with vacant possession.

During that sales campaign CBRE promoted the land’s Commercial 1 zoning and potential for it to be replaced with six-storey structures.

After it traded for $18m to China-backed developer Blackburn Blossom, four buildings including two of eight levels – the tallest proposed for the suburb – were applied for.

Pace spent $23.85m for 160 Whitehorse Road in 2018, saying at the time it intended to proceed with the permitted 263-unit proposal.

Now one of those approved structures is earmarked for the office, the number of residences is 205.

Pace of Blackburn has also been designed with an 18 metre lap pool, children’s pool, BBQ facilities, private dining room and community library.

Pace of Blackburn office

Knight Frank’s Patrick Saccardo, James Treloar and Nick Sharkey said the commercial building could support a variety of tenant configurations and will offer full height windows, “top-level” fixtures and fittings and end-of-trip facilities.

The area would be classified as A-grade.

A 5-star NABERS rating is being targeted, too.

Like the last two major office proposals unveiled in Melbourne (both in the CBD, at 555 Collins Street and 383 La Trobe Street), the Pace of Blackburn office will offer large outdoor balconies.

It will also include a rooftop terrace.

Construction is expected to be complete at Blackburn by 2022.

The agents are seeking rent upwards of $370 per sqm, per annum.

Pace Commercial and Acquisitions head, James Simpson said it “is thrilled to be returning to Melbourne’s leafy eastern suburbs, having completed Pace of Doncaster in 2018 and building on the promise the corridor holds to transform into a bustling hub”.

Box Hill – which is undergoing an enormous building boom with towers of around 40 storeys – is about two kilometres closer to the city than Blackburn.

MS Group in mid-2018 spent $9.5m on a new building near Box Hill Hospital with intentions to relocate staff from a Blackburn office near Pace’s site.

The not-for-profit can expect an eight figure windfall if it sells its double storey Blackburn Nerve Centre and a neighbouring car park – a combined 3432 sqm also zoned Commercial 1.

Pace builds everything but factories now

The 17-level Pace of Flemington apartment project, approved by Victorian planning minister Richard Wynne last month, will stare down Flemington Racecourse.

A renowned medium and high-density residential builder – Pace’s larger projects often include a retail component (part of one which it recently offloaded, in Abbotsford).

Last December the developer sold a new 11-level office on a corner block at 51 Langridge Street, Collingwood, for $31.6m.

Pace recently applied to replace a collection of Fitzroy industrial sites with a high density complex containing 113 dwellings, a rooftop pool, amphitheatre and yoga deck.

Five months earlier it spent $20m on a collection of low rise industrial sites in the neighbouring Fitzroy, set to make way for a high density apartment complex – but which could have found favour as an office.

Also last year Pace outlaid $4.5m for 9 Montrose Street, Hawthorn East – a 478 sqm site permit ready for a nine storey residential project but on which it is planning a commercial development.

Victorian planning minister Richard Wynne last month permitted the builder to construct a 17-floor apartment complex at 550 Epsom Road, on the eastern edge of Flemington Racetrack, in Melbourne’s inner north west.

The Flemington project was one of four – and the only residential one – approved during that announcement.

Founded by Shane Wilkinson, Pace is headquartered in Fitzroy Street, St Kilda, near the junction it developed The Icon, a distinctive and colourful apartment building nicknamed Lego Tower locally.

Artist’s impression of the office foyer at Pace of Blackburn.
The retail space connecting the office to an apartment complex at Pace of Blackburn (above and bottom).

Share or Recommend article

Marc Pallisco

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