Harry Triguboff overcomes dread of CFMEU trade union influence and buys first Melbourne project site

Harry Triguboff overcomes dread of CFMEU trade union influence and buys first Melbourne project site
Harry Triguboff overcomes dread of CFMEU trade union influence and buys first Melbourne project site

Overcoming his dread of the trade union influence, the Meriton apartment developer, Harry Triguboff has ditched Sydney to try his luck in the Melbourne property market.

Triguboff has bought a serviced apartment site at 140-146 King Street near Southern Cross Station, between Bourke Street and Collins Street.

He will develop a Meriton Suites apartment hotel to replace the three storey building.

The deal, worth about $29 million, will be Meriton's first development outside of NSW and Queensland, where it has completed about 70,000 apartments over the past six decades. Triguboff recently admitted the recent Sydney apartment boom had over-relied on Chinese foreigners.

The King Street, Melbourne site last sold at $10 million in 2013.

The vacant, three-storey concrete building had been expected to fetch more than $20 million, according to a report by The Age in February.

It was offloaded by Besgate Group, a little-known Sydney-based developer, backed by wealthy Chinese families, who got cold feet about Melbourne’s development market.

Besgate Group, led by the Alexandria-based Justin Gao, had burst into Melbourne’s development market in 2013 when it snapped up three city sites within six months.

Besgate's shareholders are Gao Pty Ltd; Baohua Pty Ltd directed by the Pyrmont-based Hua Gao; and Elda Group Pty Ltd, which is directed by Justin Gao, Xiao Han Sheng, Li Fan and accountant Peter Hedge. 

The site at 140 King Street could support a high-rise tower on the 781-square-metre site with an existing 2016 permit for a 57-storey building with 263 apartments.

Rothelowman's design for 140 King Street was reminiscent of a luxury watch wrist band

There were 11 offers on the site in the recent tender.

The listing agents told the Chinese press the flexible site was also suitable for the development of mixed-use, commercial, student residences, hotels or serviced apartments.

Triguboff's wealth was recently put at $12.3 billion in the Rich List published last weekend by The Australian. 

Considered the most comprehensive study of the country’s wealthy elite ever undertaken in Australia, The List was curated and edited by wealth expert John Stensholt and a global team of researchers and journalists.

Triguboff's wealth is apparently set to soar to over $13.5 billion in the upcoming, belated Financial Review Rich List. 

“It is very exciting for us to bring Meriton to Melbourne, giving the hotel business a complete presence from Melbourne, throughout Sydney and up to Brisbane and the Gold Coast," Mr Triguboff told Nine Entertainment.

"Guests have been asking for a long time, ‘when are you coming to Melbourne’, but it hasn’t been the opportune time, until now.

"It is a great location for us and our early discussions with local government made us feel very welcome – they want us to get started quickly," said Mr Triguboff.

Trade union power wasn't the only issue Triguboff has had with Melbourne.

 In a 2017 interview he said he had a problem with the weather.

"I don’t like it that it is cold. I’m too old. Old people need warmth," he said.

Meriton’s director of construction, David Cremona, said the company would seek tenders shortly, with construction due to commence later in the year.

Meriton founded its burgeoning serviced apartment business in 2003.

It currently comprises 18 hotels and 4644 self-catering suites, making it one of the country's largest owner of hotel rooms.

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.

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