CEL Australia's Tim Pearce discusses FIFTEEN85 and developing in Fishermans Bend

Laurence DragomirJuly 3, 20180 min read

Following the recent launch of the first stage of CEL Australia's FIFTEEN85 multi-tower project down in Fishermans Bend, Urban.com.au spoke to Tim Pearce, General Manager of CEL Australia about the company's ambitions for the project and the challenges of developing in an urban renewal precinct.

CEL Australia's Tim Pearce discusses FIFTEEN85 and developing in Fishermans Bend
The first stage of FIFTEEN85 has been released. Image: Gabriel Saunders

Urban.com.au: What was the appeal of this development site to CEL and particularly within Fishermans Bend? 

Tim Pearce: This site is more South Melbourne than it is Fishermans bend, being located immediately adjacent to the South Melbourne primary school and a stone’s throw from South Melbourne Market, in an area already well serviced by public transport and government driven infrastructure. Even so, South Melbourne/Fishermans bend, this site has everything going for its location, with excellent connections to the bay and beaches, CBD, South Melbourne. It’s so close to the CBD without being in that hustle and bustle, you still get a sense of getting out of the city and the noise, even though you’ve only travelled a couple of minutes away.

When we purchased the site the school and park were still on the drawing board, but now they are a reality, and a strong sign of the upgrades occurring in this area. This site is a key site to be one of the first to take advantage of the activation and holistic improvements to the area that are already happening. By the time Tower 1 is complete the precinct will be even better.

U: How important is acquiring a site with a permit in hand, in light of some of the planning uncertainty regarding the Fishermans Bend Draft Framework? 

TP: Very important. The last couple of years has seen some large scale changes to planning controls not just in this area, but across Melbourne. To have the surety of planning approval in this climate is a big positive.

U: Did you change much of the design and/or reconfigure apartment layouts? 

TP: We’ve been fortunate to inherit a great design by Elenberg Fraser, whom we know well from our previous projects. We’ve made a few tweaks to include additional storage for residents, remove mechanical car parking and make the building a little more user friendly. We’ve also reviewed a few of the layouts and common facilities to ensure that there is great amenity for those that are fortunate enough to live at FIFTEE85 in the future.

U: The project is located opposite the under construction Montague Community Park, the recently completed South Melbourne Primary School, within a short walk of the new route 96 tram stop - how important was the early delivery of this community infrastructure in providing not only CEL but prospective buyers with a degree of certainty around the redevelopment of the area? 

TP: Even without those things the area has very good fundamentals, connection and existing local drawcards such as the South Melbourne Market, Albert Park and the beaches close by. But, we are also very happy to see the great government-led community infrastructure that provides that cream on top. Of course seeing this investment in the area, buyers should be confident in the redevelopment of the area.

The government is delivering on their initiatives for the area and understand that major infrastructure projects like this are required for any area that will be a core residential area, as this one will be. Having the certainty of open green space and schooling on their doorstep is definitely a positive and builds on the community nature of the area as it further develops.

CEL Australia's Tim Pearce discusses FIFTEEN85 and developing in Fishermans Bend
The under construction Montague Community Park. Image: City of Port Phillip

U: And building on from that, was there more of a desire to provide for families than maybe you would traditionally see with a development? There has also been talk of an early learning centre potentially being developed on the neighbouring site at 6-78 Buckhurst Street? 

TP: We love families. They are great for any development and definitely build a sense of community. Yes, we do believe that younger families and first home buyers will be attracted to the area and into this development. This is why we developed some gift packages for these demographics as part of our grand launch.

South Melbourne is a comfortable area to bring up a family and with the school and park next door, FIFTEEN85 makes it very convenient as well. The demographic of South Melbourne includes a lot of young professionals with young families, or who will have young families in the future, and don’t want to live so far from work that they need to spend hours commuting, as this time is better spent at home. If the adjoining site in Buckhurst Street is to be developed into the early learning centre, that would be a fantastic outcome.

U: The site is also minutes from South Melbourne Market and Clarendon Street in one direction but also Port Melbourne and Bay Street in the other - do you consider this proximity to as one of the major selling points? 

TP: We do of course, these areas are very popular with locals and those in neighbouring suburbs. For FIFTEEN85 to be located so close to these popular spots, it allows our residents to be able to walk to some of these spots and enjoy their time in Clarendon St and the South Melbourne Markets without having to worry about parking if they don’t want to.

U: Has the lack of any real development activity in Fishermans Bend been a consideration/concern or do you see this as the perfect opportunity to be launching FIFTEEN85 and leading the way forward?  

TP: Each project brings its own considerations and concerns. Location here is more of a consideration than a concern. For all the points mentioned already there is so much going for this location. This location is closer to central South Melbourne than it is to downtown Fishermans Bend. Development in Fishermans Bend will be good for the area and will ultimately bring activity, infrastructure and great improvements to a very central part of Melbourne.

However, because we are more South Melbourne, being one of the first is not really a concern, as there is already so many positives for this site, and this will only improve over time. Besides that, we don’t mind being a leader, it provides our potential buyers with a great opportunity to invest while prices are still affordable. 

We also benefit from the lack of tall towers around the site, and limitations on future development as well – with 360 degree views to CBD, Albert Park, and the Bay. FIFTEEN85 will really be a beacon in this area.

U: What are some of the challenges with marketing a project in an area that is going to see a considerable transformation into an urban precinct? How do you sell both the short term and long term vision to prospective buyers? Or do you focus on the benefits of being located near South Melbourne and Port Melbourne as mentioned earlier? 

TP: The story is about both the short term and immediate benefits as well as the long term vision – both are a good story. In the short term we have all those things, location, school, markets, beaches. In the longer term the community will further develop around it. To a degree you do need to look past today’s streetscape to tomorrow’s streetscape, but the increasing population will bring activity and business and overall improvements.

We will have a readymade population to support others such as the neighbours who could build their early learning centre.  We do still have a 30 story building to build for Tower 1, and that’s going to take a couple of years before the first residents will be moving in. By that time there will be further changes taking place, including the next stages of FIFTEEN85.

U: The launch of each building is being staged - will construction be staged too or will construction occur all at once? And when do you anticipate this to occur? 

TP: We anticipate that works will commence by September this year. The design includes a laneway that will ultimately integrate with the surrounding properties. This also makes Tower 1 a standalone building.

Towers 2 & 3 share a common podium and while there is some flexibility in how that can be constructed, we currently anticipate that they will be constructed together. Tower 1 will commence first, with the next phase of FIFTEEN85 commencing as soon as we can – and that will be driven by the sales success of Tower 1.

Laurence Dragomir

Laurence Dragomir is one of the co-founders of Urban Melbourne. Laurence has developed a wealth of knowledge and experience working in both the private and public sector specialising in architecture, urban design and planning. He also has a keen interest in the built environment, cities and Star Wars.
CEL Australia
Fishermans Bend
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