Stadium Precinct with cameo from Grollo Tower. September 1997.

Days of Future Past: Stadium Precinct

This afternoon we delve into the Urban Melbourne archives and take a look back at the evolution of Docklands' Stadium Precinct over the better part of a decade. Through various newspaper clippings and renders, we ponder what may have been for the precinct that envelopes Etihad Stadium.

It all began when I recently decided to trawl through old newspaper clippings I had accumulated over the course of 15 years. The above article appeared near 14 years ago at a time when Colonial Stadium was marking it's first full year of operation and Essendon had claimed a record equaling 16th flag. The strategy sought a hive of activity at the interface between city and harbour, at all hours of the day.

Remarkably (or depressingly) we are only beginning see the early framework for a precinct, which after a number of false starts is finally beginning to come together in a manner not too dissimilar to the image depicted above.

South-West Stadium Precinct (SWSP) / Victoria Point

Delivered by Devine, Victoria Point has stayed true to form, being built more-or-less as depicted in the articles above, with a further level of refinement. In addition to the 42-storey apartment tower the site also features Quest Serviced apartments along Bourke Street and a 9-storey office building along Harbour Esplanade that is home to Bendigo Bank.

South-East Stadium Precinct (SESP) / Bourke Junction / NAB @ 700 Bourke / Medibank @ 720 Bourke

Outrigger proposal circa 2005:

Proposed to be 35-storeys and over 100m in height, Outrigger's first foray into Melbourne would have delivered a new 350 hotel rooms with 17 floors of apartments above. Conceived jointly between Outrigger and RIA Property Group, the Peddle Thorp-designed project fell through leading to Vic Urban running another Expressions of Interest campaign which resulted in...

Bourke Junction. Designed by Hassell and Woods Bagot for project partners CBUS Property, ISPT and EPC Partners the three tower complex would have become the new home for Suncorp Metway and ME Bank, along with a Saville Hotel.

Following the Global Financial Crisis, the project was shelved and ISPT sold its share to CBUS. 720 Bourke was redesigned in an attempt to lure an anchor tenant but ultimately required further reconfiguring and refinement.

The project was eventually rebranded as 700 Bourke leading to a second Docklands address for NAB, whilst Medibank has since joined with their new HQ @ 720 Bourke Street - forming a dynamic duo of sorts.

North-East Stadium Precinct (NESP) / Lacrosse + M Docklands

At one stage NESP was to be the site of a 19-storey, $70m glazed office building. Not all that interesting except that each facade would act as a 40m x 40m screen for motion projections.

Proposed by Pan Urban there was once talk of the Bureau of Meteorology anchoring the development and projecting live feeds of the weather radar - handy for our southern capital.

The development would ultimately become the Elenberg Fraser designed Lacrosse (Stages 1 & 2). To date only Stage 1 has been delivered (by Charter Hall) with Stage 2 now being developed by Capital Alliance and known as M Docklands.

North-West Stadium Precinct (NWSP) / Docklands Gateway / Channel 7 / Salta

Once owned entirely by Channel 7, the site save for C7's digital broadcast centre is now under the control of Salta having seen a host of development proposals including:

Pacific Harbour's squat 12,000sqm campus proposal (below left) came and went, as did a Woods Bagot-designed office complex known as 360 Degrees. Salta currently have approval in place for a commercial development or this Fender Kataslidis designed apartment building:

North Stadium Precinct / 685 LaTrobe Street

Originally forming part of the NWSP parcel, this 37,000sqm proposal by Bates Smart is targeting a 5 star Green Star & NABERS Energy rating. Joint venture partners Charter Hall and Premier Capital Developments are currently seeking a pre-commitment from an anchor tenant before commencing construction with Watpac the preferred head contractor.

15 years later, Stadium Precinct still marches on. Whether the end product is capable of becoming the hive of activity during all hours remains to be seen.

1 comment

MelbourneGuy's picture

It just shows the difference between concept and reality.

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