A'Beckett Street is arguably the best example of any inner city locale when considering the rapid change that has befallen inner Melbourne in recent years. With 2010 as a starting point, no less than 16 separate projects have or are seeking to maintain a frontage to A'Beckett Street, radically altering its feel and composition.
Apartments projects have been the most popular pursuit, with education-based builds and serviced apartment projects also represented. Moreover, the eastern end of the street, at the intersection with Swanston Street, will bear witness to the 'City North' station as part of the Melbourne Metro which according to available public domain information, will be located directly under Swanston Street between Franklin and La Trobe Streets.
For so long an almost 'sleepy' part of Melbourne's CBD with low-rise buildings lining either side, the new built form along A'Beckett Street has radically altered the streetscape with an overabundance of tall, slim towers with little to no setbacks.
A chronology of A'Beckett Street's evolution since 2010 is as follows:
The very modest A'Beckett Apartments was first to reach completion during 2010, followed closely by the altogether mediocre City Tempo serviced apartment development on A'Beckett and Queen. Some Elenberg Fraser-inspired style resulted in the colourful A'Beckett Tower; what essentially became Pan Urban's swansong project with a 2011 completion and the 2011 Dulux Colour Award to boot.
Arguably A'Beckett Street's greatest new built form arrived during 2012 with RMIT's Swanston Academic Building taking its place opposite A'Beckett Tower, with both combining to provide the Swanston Street panorama with an exemplary splash of colour and design dare.
2012 also ushered in the Pegasus Apart'Hotel at 206 A'Beckett Street, a Doig Architecture creation delivered by Merkon Constructions.
2014 and 2015 saw A'Beckett Street change evolve further, this time at the hands of Malaysian-based developers.
MY80 in many ways set the pace and scale for what would and still continuing to be the building boom in the northern reaches of Melbourne's CBD. Mammoth Empire's success with MY80 was replicated with Magna Prima's Istana and SP Setia's Fulton Lane; Asian developer-backed super-sized projects had arrived on A'Beckett Street!
At present three substantial residential towers are under construction with all being backed by Asian-affiliated developers.
EQ Tower is well into construction as is Empire on Elizabeth and A'Beckett, while Avant Tower is the most recent start with Probuild tasked with delivering the 57-level tower which will be cloaked in a distinctive hue of pink upon completion.
What shapes to be the biggest build also promises much by way of street level activation. Queens Place is dominated by two hulking residential towers yet it will be at street level where it's hoped the project will shine.
Cox Architecture and Fender Katsalidis have created a highly articulated podium for the project that is very accommodating at street level; should the project live up to the renders it will be a clear winner on a public realm level and may well put its other A'Beckett Street contemporaries to shame.
Four substantial projects are still at planning, headed by Tong Eng Group's 111-125 A’Beckett Street. While it has support from City of Melbourne, another contemporary at 183-189 A’Beckett Street has fallen short of City of Melbourne's expectations. Having said that, the final decision lies with the Minister for Planning.
What was briefly marketed as Uni Tower at 48-50 A'Beckett went back to planning and duly received the green light during December 2015 while the latest entrant to A'Beckett Street is RMIT's fresh proposal for a mixed-use tower opposite their Swanston Academic Building. This is the subject of a separate article.
A'Beckett Street has been transformed in a remarkably short period of time and with a number of ripe development sites tagged for development its evolution from quite CBD street to a prime apartment tower hot spot looks set to continue.