And so another chapter today for what is expected to become suburban Melbourne's tallest tower with a revised planning application recently submitted for 545 Station Street, Box Hill. Speaking volumes to the developer's intent to deliver a landmark for the area, AXF Group have once more facilitated a new planning application for Whitehorse City Council's consideration.
The latest incarnation for the site follows years in which property developers have tried to deliver a landmark development for Melbourne's Eastern suburbs. Initially holding a permit for a 23 level tower granted during 2004, Barton Australia Group tried revising the approved plans to include a 133.3m mixed-use proposal holding 232 residential and 176 serviced apartments, 4110 sqm of retail space and 4350 sqm of commercial floor area. Eventually scuttled by VCAT during 2010, the 33 level building seemed to fall by the wayside.
2012 heralded a new planning application with AXF Group publicly taking the reigns for the project. Still with 33 levels, yet smaller at 111m in height, 545 Station Street drew considerable comment due to the near chaotic design (below right) put forward by Buchan Group Architects. Columnists such as Alan Davies questioned the merits of the design while Whitehorse City Council remained conspicuously quiet, and with good reason as it was revealed that the project had been put on hold due to an amended design taking shape.
Submitted in recent weeks, the new 545 Station Street proposal is now with Whitehorse City Council. Ostensibly dumbed down, one could argue the revised design is an altogether more refined project which has seemingly listened to concerns and addressed them by way of an all glass, gold and silver tower. Buchan Architects are once more responsible for the design; its showpiece being the 'tiled' north and south facades that draw design parallels to another Melbourne project - Silver & Bronze currently at sales within Melbourne's Docklands.
Once more at 33 levels, the scheme now measures 114.2m in height on a site area of 2417sqm. A total of 419 apartments have been included within the tower, consisting of studio, one, two and three bedroom options with a typical floor plate holding a net floor area of 1055sqm. Studio apartments number 70 while one bedroom options number 72. A healthy 264 two bedroom options are included with the balance consisting of 13 three bedroom apartments located through the towers highest levels.
The lower levels have come in for particular attention with Buchan Group significantly increasing the interactive nature of the immediate areas facing Station Street and surrounds. A total of 288 car parking spaces have been provided for within five levels of underground parking, as have been 168 bicycle and 15 motorbike spaces. Vehicle access is via Carrington Road, allowing a full active frontage facing Station Street whilst a truck turntable is incorporated into the loading bay, maximising use of space. A potential pedestrian link to Box Hill Centro Shopping Centre has been allowed for within the plans, further enhancing the public realm should the tower proceed.
Lower levels host a number of uses, with multiple restaurants totalling 2677sqm incorporated into the podium. A further 715sqm of food and drink premises have also been allowed for, indicating the podium has been designed to be heavily used by the public, particularly outside normal business hours - a good outcome indeed. 2263sqm of serviced office space is also included whilst level six hosts 572sqm of residential gym/club/pool facilities.
For those who know the area well the podium of the new 545 Station Street proposal is in itself a vast improvement over the previous design and a quantum leap forward relative to what is found onsite at the moment. An open air car park, 545 Station Street is the ultimate detraction to the public realm in an area that has for sometime seemed tired and uninviting.
AXF Group would certainly be hoping that after years of trying to gain approval for 545 Station Street Box Hill, the revised planning application may finally curry favour with Whitehorse City Council. A 'bomb site' ripe for renewal surrounded by transport options, retail and services within an activity centre - if ever the Eastern suburbs were to gain a landmark tower, 545 Station Street seems the logical location for it. Time will tell.