New proposals seek to join the 200m club

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Image © Buchan Group

Many readers would recall an article published early December titled 'Are 200m residential towers the new norm for Melbourne?' in which Urban Melbourne touched upon fourteen towers aiming to take their place in the city's burgeoning skyline.  From planning assessment to construction fourteen is a sizeable number, yet such is the dynamic state of Melbourne's apartment market coupled with the willingness of Asian-backed developers, Urban Melbourne can today unveil further proposals that would have a profound presence on Melbourne's silhouette if realised.

Metier 3 architects design generally atypical buildings and 25-35 Power Street Southbank is no exception.  The firms first large-scale design will see the now vacant block transformed into a unique Melbourne built form landmark.  With a concave form accentuated by a swept wing facing Power Street, the 70 storey, 274 metre mixed-use complex has been conceived for recent site purchaser Freshwater No 6 Pty Ltd.

Another behemoth is also seeking approval with AXF Group championing the redevelopment of their plot at 180 Russell Street, seen below right.  Seeking to replace the 1965 Total Car Park complex, Buchan Group architects have created a shimmering 70 level, 271 metre mixed-use complex.  With impressive street frontages and a chameleon-like facade this development may encounter opposition from heritage groups expecting the retention of the existing Japanese Burtalist-style complex, which carries a B grading in terms of heritage according to Melbourne City council.

No article could be written at the moment without the presence of Elenberg Fraser, with three additional entries complementing their existing 200 metre + designs > Tower Melbourne, Victoria Tower and 127-141 A'Beckett Street.  

Below left is the current version of 450 Elizabeth Street which at 61 levels and 197 metres is now subject to a revised planning application which would boost the floor count to 67 levels and height comfortably beyond 200 metres.  The jungle drums say site owner Sixth Grange Pty Ltd has formed a joint venture with an Asian-backed developer currently active within Melbourne's CBD and that a sales campaign will commence within months.

Inset sees the only image currently available of 250 La Trobe Street, directly opposite Melbourne Central.  The 50 and 78 level tower at approximately 250 metres in height is set to feature 500 plus residential apartments in a star shaped complex with opulent finishes. According to Elenberg Fraser Principal Callum Fraser, “This development will offer one of the most generous provision of communal facilities to the residents and this will set the project apart from the rest in the market.” 

Last but not least is Elenberg Fraser's revised scheme for 380 Lonsdale Street. At the behest of bullish Singaporean developer Hiap Hoe, Elenberg Fraser have delivered a 50 and 60 level mixed-use complex with the taller northern tower nigh on if not over the 200 metre mark.  With Aloft Hotels waiting in the wings to operate the hotel component, 380 Lonsdale like the previous two is looking for a 2014 public sales launch.

So, a Melbourne Cup-sized field of 200 metre plus residential towers looms on Melbourne's horizon.

As outlined in December's piece, Asian developers operate beyond the stringent conditions that local developers face in financing their projects.  Additionally the majority of Asian developers are generally robust, well established, well financed property development firms overseas prior to inserting themselves in the local market.

Consequently the likelihood of most of the now 19 proposals of 200 metres or more coming to fruition is quite high.  With this in mind it's plausible to suggest this is a watershed time for Melbourne.  The size, character and feel of Melbourne will change markedly, along with its skyline, most likely triggering debate once the scope and size of these proposal in their entirety are realised by the wider public - although this is a topic for another day.  

Detailed articles on the above proposals/planning applications will follow in due course, beginning with 25-35 Power Street later this week.

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