Ryman scoops inner-north block for $350m mixed-use village

The Gaffney Street site (outlined) is nine kilometres north of Melbourne.

Ryman Healthcare will develop its biggest Australian project yet on an inner north Melbourne site (shaded red, top) purchased for $48.2 million.

The proposed $350m mixed-use village would replace 14-22 Gaffney Street, Coburg North – a property owned for decades by the federal government’s Australian Defence Apparel, which manufactured uniforms there.

Ryman recently opened the Raelene Boyle Retirement Village at Aberfeldie.

In recent years, the 2.56 hectare block with 243 car parks beside Batman station has dubbed as a fresh food market, hospitality space and co-work precinct.

The land was rezoned for residential use nearly 10 years ago, allowing for buildings between four and 10 storeys.

Melbourne Acquisitions’ James Latos and Dominic Gibson brokered the sale for local investors which held it since the 1990s.

Colliers’ Hamish Burgess and Joe Kairouz acted for New Zealand listed Ryman, which since entering the Australian market in 2014, has, in Victoria, seven operational facilities.

Eight more are in the pipeline including on blocks the operator recently acquired at Essendon (on 1.8ha), Kealba (6.1ha) and Mulgrave (4.7ha).

Mixed-use project planned

In line with 2013 concept plans for the site, commercial and retail would be developed on the southernmost edge, facing Gaffney St, connecting Batman station to a permitted six storey Holiday Inn hotel on the north west corner of Sydney Rd.

Ryman is additionally intending essential services product – targeting health service operators which might be able to service its residents (and possibly, occupants at the John Fawkner Hospital in neighbouring Coburg).

The proposed facility will contain independent living apartments and a full aged care complex with dementia care; any upper levels would offer postcard views of the CBD nine kilometres away.

A café, bar, gym, cinema, pool and hair salon also form part of the plans.

The federal government sold 14 Gaffney St in 1994, two years after moving functions undertaken there to Bendigo (story continues below).

Mr Latos said a tender campaign relaunched after Melbourne’s last lockdown yielded six offers.

Retirement living, aged care in one

Like all Ryman assets here, the proposed Coburg North complex will contain retirement units and an aged care complex on one site.

“The village…would offer residents a bustling city lifestyle surrounded by restaurants, cafes and public transport options right on their doorstep,” Ryman Australia chief executive officer, Cameron Holland, said.

“What we know at Ryman is that retiring doesn’t mean slowing down,” he added.

“With more free time on their hands, older Australians want to get busy living life to the full…this village will provide a unique opportunity to do just that,” according to the executive.

“With aged care available on site, residents will also have the peace of mind that comes from knowing they’ll be looked after if their health needs change.

“Coburg North is an area that’s really taking off, with the recent arrival of marque developments like the Pentridge Shopping Centre adding to its appeal.

“We build village communities where people want to live, and this is an area where people very much want to.

“The Coburg North site was fueled by strong demand for the model Ryman has brought to the Victorian market from New Zealand, where the company has been operating for almost 40 years”.

Ryman has invested more than $1.2 billion in the state, its complexes are home to more than 900 residents.

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Marc Pallisco

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