The rise and rise of Melbourne's Spencer Street

The rise and rise of  Melbourne's Spencer Street
The rise and rise of Melbourne's Spencer Street

The western edge of Melbourne's CBD is a flurry with construction activity as a number of projects are currently underway along Spencer Street. Once derided as Melbourne's arse end, the burgeoning Docklands precinct and redevelopment of the former Spencer Street Station (remember that?) into Southern Cross Station have provided the catalyst for the Street's metamorphosis into a high-rise neighbourhood.

Developments such as Liberty Tower (Elenberg Fraser's first high-rise), Far East Consortium's multi-tower Upper West Side on the site of the former Lonsdale Street power station, and Media House amongst others have all contributed to lifting Spencer Street's profile over the last 20 years.

In more recent years the pace has really picked up with Spencer Street not only going up in terms of height but also branching out with development towards West Melbourne. With that in mind let's take a look at the current construction pipleline along Spencer Street.

Melbourne Village

The rise and rise of  Melbourne's Spencer Street
Melbourne Village. Images: Deague Group | Urban.com.au forumer redden

The Deague Group's Melbourne Village development will upon completion comprise 496 apartments, 33 townhouses as well as commercial office space within two towers. 

Covering a 3,800 sqm site at 83-113 Batman Street, Asian Pacific Group's purchased the site with approval for dual 27-storey towers designed by Bruce Henderson Architects.

The walls of the red brick podium have been erected with builder Maxcon making good progress with the cores beginning to make their mark on the West Melbourne skyline.

West End

The rise and rise of  Melbourne's Spencer Street
West End site works have finally commenced. Images: Trennery Property | Urban.com.au forumer redden

Trennery Property's five building 'village' development has finally commenced onsite with excavation now underway to deliver the project that includes an impressive roll call of designers including ARM, CHT, Carr, Six Degrees, MIM Design and Hecker Guthrie.

Key elements of the $300 million include a 92-room, 4.5 star Adina hotel, a 600 sqm public park, a supermarket, specialty stores, restaurants and cafes in addition to a north-south public arcade Rosslyn and Dudley Streets.

311 Spencer Street

The rise and rise of  Melbourne's Spencer Street
The new Victoria Police Centre. Images: Cbus Property | Mark Baljak

Probuild is making heady progress on Cbus Property's 311 Spencer Street project, with facade installation now underway.

The new 39-storey Victoria Police Centre will join the existing City West Police Complex also designed by Woods Bagot.

Upon completion the project will inject approximately 65,500 sqm of A-grade office space, further adding to the street's emerging high-rise character and providing it with diversity of programme.

Premier Tower

The rise and rise of  Melbourne's Spencer Street
Premier Tower's structure has now cleared the podium levels. Images: Elenberg Fraser | SSC forumer lozza

Construction on Elenberg Fraser's Beyonce-inspired building for Fragrance group is beginning to move at pace, following a slow start in getting out of the ground due to difficult ground conditions.

Multiplex has progressed Balmain Street's core it be well above the podium levels, while the first of the tower's floors are being formed.

The first traces of the 249m tower's silver glazing are still some way off, in stark contrast to the brown brick perimeter walls of the former Savoy Tavern that used to occupy the site.

West Side Place

The rise and rise of  Melbourne's Spencer Street
Stage one of West Side Place. Images: Far East Consortium | Urban.com.au forumer redden

Another project with Probuild at the helm, Far East Consortium's West Side Place takes the tier one builder's crane count on Spencer Street to eight.

The first stage of the Cottee Parker-designed quad tower development includes the 263 room Ritz-Carlton in addition to 1,376 apartments across two towers of 81 and 62-storeys.

Occupying the site of the former Age building which drew constant comparisons with Soviet-era architecture, the development has begun emerging out of the ground, with the cores rising above street level.

Along with 311 Spencer Street it is an impressive sight as you come down Lonsdale Street and you are greeted with cranes galore.

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.

Tags: 
Spencer Street Probuild Multiplex Cbus Property Far East Consortium

Comments (9)

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pdoff
^^ I agree with an east-west line idea too. In fact, I'd keep it going over the train-lines and E-gate to better connect Docklands from a direction other than the CBD.

Whether an area is well connected is relative. What's there now may work well now, but see how it works with another 20,000 residents and 25,000 jobs in Arden and West Melbourne. These areas should ultimately be aiming for a grid of tram routes as exists in the inner east and south-east.
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johnproctor
I would think that the ongoing sewer works on Spencer Street and traffic management associated with the private developments will lead to some of the temporary lane closures becoming more permanent southbound over the next 6-12 months.

Personally I don't get the idea of extending the Spencer Street tram. from the mid point along Spencer to Dynon Road bridge it is 600m walk back to La Trobe Street (for both north/south and east/west trams, 600m walk to North Melbourne Station and about 400m walk to the nearest Victoria Street stops for route 57 and about 650m walk to William Street for the route 59.

I.e. that whole "north Melbourne" area is already very well connected particularly back to the CBD which is all a Spencer Street extension would do.

I've always been a bigger fan of connecting up a full length east-west tram with new track from Erroll Street to North Melbourne Station and new track from Swanston Street to La Trobe Street to make a continuous east-west route from Abottsford, Collingwood, Fitzroy, (almost) Parliament station), State Library Station, QVM, and interchange with all the northern tram lines for that cross town connectivity. Anyway. I digress.
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nwharr
One of the predicted benefits of the West Gate Tunnel project is that traffic along Spencer Street will drop dramatically. This should allow for more streetscape improvements.
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pdoff
With Melbourne Village, West End and others, extend the tram line further up Spencer Street and this part of town could transform into something great. Extend it all the way to/through the sprouting Arden/Macaulay precinct would be even better.

Spencer, Dryburgh and Arden Streets could even afford the loss of road space if it the line is built before the area populates with car reliant residents and businesses.
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George D
While I'm absolutely excited and positive about these tower developments, the same can't be said of the streetscape.

Melbourne desperately needs to see some courage from its council and state government in order to fix a street environment that is not fit for the tens of thousands of Melbournians and interstate visitors who use it each day. A few cars gain priority over thousands of pedestrians and the state's railway hub. The result is a place that is crowded, rushed, noisy, and unpleasant.

All of this could change rapidly, if those with the power wanted to make it so.
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