Robert Goodliffe of ClarkeHopkinsClarke discusses Polaris 3083

Polaris 3083 is a $500 million community development encompassing its own town centre, apartments, townhouses, shops, recreational areas, aged care and student accommodation. Developed by Deal Corp with masterplanning and architecture by ClarkeHopkinsClarke (CHC), the intent of Polaris is to create a diverse and rich community that caters to all demographics through a variety of amenities and housing typologies.

Deal Corp acquired the 12-hectare Bundoora site from VicUrban following a formal tender process. Having worked with CHC on a number other mixed-use and residential projects, Deal Corp engaged the practice to design Polaris 3083. The initial planning efforts were concentrated on the Village Centre, a key element of the project. This was completed last year as part of Stage 1 along with 64 apartments across five buildings. The early delivery of The Village Centre ensured the development had a vibrant town centre that provided optimal amenity to residents from the outset.

Polaris 3083 Master Plan. Courtesy Polaris 3083 website.

Urban Melbourne spoke to CHC Partner Robert Goodliffe about the office's involvement on Polaris 3083 and its future. Goodliffe attributes CHC's engagement on the project to the office's considerable experience in the multi-residential and retail sector, which has enabled the practice to deliver a vibrant and diverse mixed-use community on a brownfield site.

The project features a full-line Woolworths supermarket and Dan Murphy’s store among the current retail offering at ground level, developed along with a suite of eight two-storey apartment buildings. While these buildings share a similar materials palette, they were deliberately given to different design teams within CHC.

This approach has ensured a level of aesthetic variation that creates local character and avoids the homogeneous appearance of many planned communities. The last of these buildings, Summit 22, is currently commencing construction and will complete the village square with 22 apartments set above retail.

Two-storey apartments atop ground level retail is a feature of Polaris 3083. Courtesy ClarkeHopkinsClarke

Reinforcing the idea of community is the inclusion of a Red Cross Blood Bank, next to council's community centre. This facility is currently under construction and will be housed within one of the historic Larundel buildings. A series of laneways filters people through the town centre from a variety of directions contributing to the creation of a walkable community. A series of townhouses are also nearing completion, while a suite of three apartment buildings are under construction at the centre of the site.

Originally, Deal Corp were considering using a variety of different architects to enable a diversity in architectural responses. However, having seen the range of design delivered by the CHC team, Deal Corp engaged the practice for the remainder of the estate. The project will eventually deliver over 1000 additional dwellings.

Attention is currently focused on a number of areas on site that will deliver further retail opportunities to activate the main entry driveway as well as residential apartments, a 24/7 gym plus serviced apartments and a tavern along Plenty Road. There’s also potential for an office component, completing the south-west corner of the master plan. Meanwhile, the old Linakers Cottage was sold to another developer who is converting this into a childcare facility.

To the site’s north, CHC are working on the Aspire apartments, involving the adaptive re-use of two of the heritage listed Larundel Buildings. The council were keen to see these buildings redeveloped early in the development process due to their poor state of repair. Dwellings in Aspire will be converted into New York loft-style apartments. They will retain some of the heritage fabric such as the colonial multi panel windows and the high ceilings to “enrich a modern renovation," Goodliffe says.

Due to squatters and various fires over time, the buildings have fallen into a state of disrepair that will require them to be stripped back to their core structure and rebuilt. Despite the cost in doing so, Goodliffe says Deal Corp have made a commitment to retain the buildings. A basement carpark will provide parking for Aspire's residents while a series of three storey townhouses to the east overlooking the existing village green rounds out the development. The Aspire apartments are currently selling well due to their premium location overlooking abundant parkland.

Aspire Apartments currently selling. Courtesy ClarkeHopkinsClarke

Future stages will see more townhouses developed and apartment buildings up to six-storeys. Supported aged care is also on the cards allowing for Polaris 3083 to develop into, as Goodliffe puts it, "a fully integrated lifestyle community that spans a generation from childcare through to supported residential."

Polaris 3083 is expected to be completed over the course of the next five years as the last remaining sites are due to be lodged for town planning approval in the not-too-distant future.

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