Bridge Road's latest development complete, what next for the rising apartment strip

The completion of Dux Richmond Hill in recent days has added further weight to the strip's diversification away from being predominantly a retail zone.

In recent years Urban Melbourne has looked at the strip's retail woes, potential solutions in fixing the faltering strip and its drift toward apartment development. Dux Richmond Hill at 153-177 Bridge Road has added a further 175 apartments, placing it as Bridge road's second largest apartment development delivered.

Developer Little Projects is mindful of the apartment wave that is providing Bridge road with a fundamental shift in how the strip is perceived.

The Dux Richmond Hill by Little Projects

On the occasion of Dux Richmond Hill's completion Little Projects Development Director Leighton Pyke provided the following commentary regarding Bridge Road:

New apartment buildings like Dux Richmond Hill are the catalysts for change we need to resurrect shopping strips like Bridge Road and give new purpose to its retail operations.

What we are seeing is a role reversal with residential now driving and attracting retail rather than it simply being a case of activity zones dictating development. There is genuine opportunity to be realised as new developments return foot traffic to strips that have long been starved of new blood.

Rather than trying to return them to their former glory, we should be driving the evolution of prime shopping strips like Bridge Road, Richmond, Fitzroy Street, St Kilda and Chapel St, South Yarra and reappropriating them for a new generation of residents.

Little Projects notes that Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that over 4,100 apartments have been built through established retail strips in Collingwood, Fitzroy, Northcote and Richmond since 2012, leading to a 5.5 per cent increase in the number of businesses trading along these strips.

Little Projects cite a further 3,600 apartments set for completion across these four locations by December 2020, which will further amplify the trend.

Leighton Pyke also provided comment on the type of retail tenancy supporting these new apartment developments:

Yes, there is an undeniable shift in offering that needs to take place if we are to bring back beloved locations like Bridge Road but what’s exciting about this is the rich opportunities to be found here for those retailers who provide well-balanced food and service offerings that are tailored to suit the local audience

The feedback we have received is that the Dux Richmond Hill’s retail spaces are more adaptable than the traditional narrow Victorian terraces of Bridge Road, which are limiting in terms of their potential for fitouts and adaptive reuses.

SJB's Richmond Plaza design

For Bridge Road specifically, there remains a solid pipeline of apartments in waiting. With Dux Richmond Hill complete, next to the construction starting line is Lanbruk Serviced Apartments at 79 Bridge Road.

Builder Minicon is charged with delivering the serviced apartment complex which will join Cobild's 10 level Frame Apartments at construction and the soon to be restarted Herbert King. The latter two projects are mere metres from Bridge Road.

A sweep of the Urban Melbourne Project Database shows hundreds of new apartments earmarked for Bridge Road across a further 10 developments.

Largest of these is Coles Group and Gresham Property Funds Management's approved development of Richmond Plaza which includes a slab of retail space and 300 plus apartments over 12 levels. Project architect notes the project's end value at $250 million.