Tower to Top Fun Factory, Chapel Street South Yarra

If approved, all buildings at the prominent site, on the north-west corner of Chapel Street and Toorak Road, would be demolished and replaced with The Capitol, South Yarra, a $150million project including a 38-level luxury apartment building, shopping arcade and offices.

The property is now occupied by the Soda Rock Diner, Freedom Furniture and a discount clothing retailer. It was once occupied by The Capitol Bakery, hence the project’s name.

The Capitol is an important piece of two separate structure plans recently implemented by the Stonnington City Council.

This includes the 2005 Forrest Hill Structure Plan, covering former industrial-zoned land to the west of The Capitol and the 2007 Chapel Vision Structure Plan, covering retail and residential-zoned land east and south of the new development.

If Stonnington City Council approves The Capitol, footpaths along Toorak Road and Chapel Street will be widened and a rear laneway, Almeida Crescent, will be converted into a residential street.

A 38-level, 204-unit apartment tower with a gymnasium, lap pool, lounge areas and podium-level garden would be developed, with 75% of apartments having north-facing living areas with views over the central business district and Port Phillip Bay.

The Bates Smart-designed apartment tower would be the tallest outside the CBD, Docklands, Southbank and St Kilda Road, sources said.

A shopping centre of 3471square metres would also be developed, alongside a six-level, 7566 sq m office building, accessed via Toorak Road.

The Fun Factory site is 50% owned by Sydney-based Freedom Furniture founders Peter Palan and Julian Tertini, who have occupied part of the site since 1992.

The partnership has significant other property experience interstate.

The remaining half of the asset is owned by APN Property Group’s Development Fund No.1, part of the $4 billion APN Property Group, headed by former Grocon managing director Chris Aylward.

Former Gandel Group managing director Clive Appleton is also part of APN and will be involved in The Capitol project.

The Fun Factory site was once mooted as a potential retail home for the Apple computer chain. Last year, images made their way online of a proposal that would have created a three-level, stand-alone Apple store on the prominent corner, on the site of the Soda Rock Diner.

A key reason for shelving the plans, according to sources, was the potential rent the site’s owners stood to lose if they gave the most expensive retail part of the site to a stand-alone retailer.

Outside the CBD, retail rents at the corner of Toorak Road and Chapel Street are considered Melbourne’s most expensive.

Last month, Challenger announced a $750 million redevelopment of the nearby Jam Factory site in Chapel Street, which will double the amount of retail space in that centre to 54,000sqm. A high-rise apartment building and 8000sqm office building are also proposed for that site.

South Yarra is the only inner-city suburb to appear as a Principal Activity Centre under the Victorian Government’s controversial Melbourne 2030 planning policy.

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Marc Pallisco

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

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