Milbex follows a tried and true path

Long before the shadow cast by Asian-backed property developers over the Melbourne apartment market, local developers were delivering projects in a altogether typical fashion. For a variety of limiting factors it's near on impossible for the vast majority of local property developers to bust into the apartment market with grandiose projects in the vicinity of 1000 dwellings, as has been the case recently.

Rather the slow and steady increase of developments in terms of scale and complexity was the norm. In talking to Little Projects' Managing Director Michael Fox recently, the discussion veered into how the now considerably sized property player began in the Melbourne market.

"Why, we started with townhouses like everyone else" was the reply from the head of a firm that has a rash of apartments currently in planning. This in turn prompted Urban Melbourne to sift through the considerable list of Melbourne-based property players via our Project Database in an attempt to identify the next small to medium sized apartment developer ready to step up to the next level.

Essence at 52 Park Street, South Melbourne. Image © Elenberg Fraser

We suspect that next firm is Milbex. From conception in 2004 with a dual townhouse project in Elwood, a handful of lower density projects were undertaken until their breakout project titled Essence was completed during late 2013. Now a year later the developer has taken the leap to the next level with three apartment projects of note.

The current stable

Moorabbin's Bayside Tower has commenced construction; after a brisk sales campaign, builder Hamilton & Marino has advanced the build to the lower basement level. Located in Richmond, Estelle is still before City of Yarra although a decision is expected shortly given the length of time it has been at planning.

With an active website seeking registrations of interest, Estelle's 91 apartments look set to join Bayside's 128 dwellings in due course.

Clockwise sees Bayside, 39W & Estelle. Images courtesy Milbex

Next in line is a project dubbed 39W. Currently under assessment with City of Port Phillip, 37-43 Park Street South Melbourne spans 12 levels and seeks to hold 120 apartments, ground level retail space and office space through the podium.

The existing 39 Park Street low-rise commercial complex is available for short term lease indicating demolition may not be all that far away.

When it works... it works!

Milbex look to have settled upon a successful formula as their developments increase in frequency. Elenberg Fraser's experience with the developer at Essence has led to the prolific architecture firm designing Bayside, Estelle and 39W.

Add Hamilton & Marino builders into the mix for both Essence and Bayside and the trend of familiarity emerges. Not specific to Milbex, this practice is prevalent with other developers who maintain multiple projects on the go at any given time, thus streamlining the development process via a ongoing working relationship.

From the casual observers perspective Milbex is on an upward trajectory, and may well soon enough sit in the same bracket as Caydon or Pace Development Group within the Melbourne development scene. As for who will be the next small-scale developer to make the jump to the next level, there's no shortage of local developers vying for the distinction!


Development & Planning

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 00:00
City of Port Phillip will this week indicate that it has sufficient reason to object to two pending projects in Port Melbourne. 17 Rocklea Drive and 365-391 Plummer Street are both within the Wirraway Precinct of Fishermans Bend, and both projects are under the authority of the Minister for Planning.

Policy, Culture & Opinion

Monday, November 20, 2017 - 12:00
The marriage of old and new can be a difficult process, particularly when the existing structure has intrinsic heritage value. In previous times Fitzroy's 237 Napier Street served as the home of furniture manufacturer C.F. Rojo and Sons. Taking root during 1887, Christobel Rojo oversaw operations though over time the site would become home to furniture manufacturer Thonet.

Visual Melbourne

Friday, August 25, 2017 - 07:00
The former site of John Batman's home, Batman's Hill is entering the final stages of its redevelopment. Collins Square's final tower has begun its skyward ascent, as has Lendlease's Melbourne Quarter Commercial and Residential precinct already. Melbourne Quarter's first stage is at construction and involves a new 12-storey home for consultancy firm Arup along with a skypark.


Transport & Design

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 12:00
When a site spans 19,280 square metres, it becomes a 'district'. That's the case according to the development team behind the Jam Factory's pending overhaul. Reporting on the project to date has focused on the close to 60,000 square metres of new commercial space that is earmarked for the site, but more importantly from a layperson's perspective is the extensive new public realm that is planned as part of the development.

Sustainability & Environment

Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 12:00
Cbus Property's office development for Medibank at 720 Bourke Street in Docklands recently became the first Australian existing property to receive a WELL Certification, Gold Shell and Core rating. The WELL rating goes beyond sustainable building features with a greater focus on the health and well-being of a building's occupants.