Development Scenario: 140 & 150 Queen Street

Development Scenario: 140 & 150 Queen Street
Development Scenario: 140 & 150 Queen Street

After a protracted legal battle with a Singaporean rival which ground demolition works on its Tower Melbourne project, developer CEL Australia has walked away from the project. Demolition of the existing building on the corner of Bourke and Queen Street ground to a halt in 2013 following a dispute about access to the property and damage to the adjoining buildings at140 Queen Street & 27 McKillop Street.

Fellow developer Colonial Range, filed legal action in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal seeking to have the planning permit for the project revoked, which delayed the start of construction of the 226m Elenberg Fraser designed tower. With VCAT finding in its favour, CEL Australia was ready to recommence works onsite, however these plans were scuttled after Colonial Range decided to take the matter to the Supreme Court.

Colonial Range, then known as Ruby Group, originally owned both sites and had approval planning approval for a 27-storey serviced apartment tower designed by Kerstin Thompson Architects at 140 Queen Street which bridged across Penfold Place and featured a new laneway connecting Penfold Place and McKillop Street.

Development Scenario: 140 & 150 Queen Street
140 Queen Street had approval for a 27-storey serviced apartment tower. Image: KTA

It curiously sold off 150 Queen Street to Charter Hall who then onsold it to Chip Eng Seng under its Australian subsidiary CEL Australia. They promptly engaged Elenberg Fraser to design a  71-storey tower comprising 555 apartments, but it would appear Tower Melbourne is set to join the long list of Melbourne Never Builts after requests by purchasers to cancel their contracts, resulting in CEL rescinding on the remainder.

The protracted and complex nature of the legal proceedings have forced the cessation of any works on site since September 2013, and despite ongoing efforts to resolve these disputes, CEL Australia is still unable to proceed with any further demolition works on the existing building.

Consequently, the building of Tower Melbourne has been significantly delayed and the project is unable to be delivered within the Date of Registration stipulated in the contracts of sale.

CEL Australia’s first priority has always been to deliver Tower Melbourne in line with its vision for the project, and as such, has done everything within its legal power to try to reach a resolution. Regrettably, it has become increasingly apparent that there is still no resolution in sight, and with further proceedings still pending, Tower Melbourne in its current form is no longer viable for CEL Australia to develop.

Due to the delays, a number of purchasers have requested to cancel their contracts. In these instances, CEL Australia has granted their requests. Rather than waiting until the Registration Date has lapsed, CEL Australia will rescind the contracts of the remaining purchasers to release them from their contracts as soon as possible. CEL Australia is in the process of informing purchasers of this outcome.

CEL Australia has made this decision in order to ensure the best possible resolution for all stakeholders, and allow purchasers to move on.

- CEL Australia, November 2017

Following from this decision it has since emerged that CEL and Colonial Range have agreed to collectively sell their respective sites. The landholdings are being marketed Off market through Colliers International with both parties expecting $150 million for the combined blocks which now encompass 140-150 Queen Street and 27 McKillop Street, that combined form a 2,500 sqm development site.

Which brings us to the subject of today's article - what is the development potential of this development site in light of the current planning regime and with a Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of 18:1 limiting the height should the new purchaser not act on the Tower Melbourne permit?

Below I've undertaken a quick study to investigate the development potential of the combined sites, with the intent to try and achieve height on the site while being within an allowed planning envelope. For the purposes of the study, I have gone with a residential tower floor to floor height but with a floorplate that could accommodate office use.

Development Scenario: 140 & 150 Queen Street
Tower Melbourne and the site developed with full site coverage.

Not surprisingly a FAR of 18:1 with full site coverage results in an 18 storey-building of 45,000 sqm GFA - a stark contrast to Tower Melbourne's 71-storeys.

Development Scenario: 140 & 150 Queen Street
Setbacks applied and Public Open Space introduced

By applying setbacks above the 40m podium, the height of the tower can increase, resulting in a 28-storey building overall. The introduction of open space, decreases the site coverage allowing for a larger floorplate for the tower without an increase to the GFA. Commercial office space within the podium, combined with the open space as public benefits allow for additional floor area through a Floor Area Uplift (FAU). 

Development Scenario: 140 & 150 Queen Street
Final massing and comparison diagram.

The resulting building envelope allows that is achieved is based on the following:

  • 27-storeys residential + 8-storey commercial podium
  • Public Benefits: 1,000 sqm POS @ $15,000/sqm = $15m, 13,000 sqm of office space  
  • Residential value of additional floor space within western core: $7,500/sqm
  • FAU Value: 7,500 sqm x 10%
  • Floor Area Uplift: 20,000 sqm / 17-storeys ($15m ÷ $750) + 1,300sqm office
  • Total : 53-storeys / 180m

As you can see this is still almost 50m shorter than Tower Melbourne, so for whoever purchases the combined sites, the development potential of 140 Queen Street and 27 McKillop Street is limited if the new owners don't try to revive Tower Melbourne.


Laurence Dragomir

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.

140 Queen Street 150 Queen Street 27 McKillop Street 3D Model Development


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