Qualitas and K.P.D.O. provide The Fawkner with added impetus

Australian based real estate investment manager Qualitas recently announced the acquisition of the Fawkner Centre at 499 St Kilda Road, in a move that will see the site redeveloped into high-end apartments. In a joint venture with LAS Group, the $300 million project dubbed ‘The Fawkner’ will transform the former commercial building into 253 apartments providing direct access to Fawkner Park, while offering expansive views to Port Phillip Bay and Albert Park.

The project initially began life under the stewardship of joint partners LAS Group and Malaysian developer IGB Corporation. After gaining approval during 2014 for an Elenberg Fraser rebirth accommodating 245 apartments, the project has since been reconfigured by Kerry Phelan and her design team at K.P.D.O.

The residential conversion will see all internals stripped before being reconfigured to one, two and three-bedroom apartments featuring five-star, hotel-like amenity. Capping the project will be a new reflective glazed facade.

499 St Kilda Road aerial. Image courtesy Qualitas

According to Qualitas Managing Director – Real Estate Principal Investments, Mark Fischer, The Fawkner is largely driven by a desire to cater to the owner-occupier and downsizer market who appreciate generously sized apartments with excellent amenity and a standard of finish that is expected of St Kilda Road apartment developments.

The focus for both ourselves when we became involved and LAS Group was that this is somewhat an irreplaceable location and a rather unique opportunity to have residential connected directly to Fawkner Park. Ideally the purchaser profile for a project like this is going to be someone very discerning, someone who has lived in quite a nice family home and is seeking a very clever and intelligent floor plan and strong level of finishes in the project.

So we spent significant time reworking the floor plans again, and that’s really where K.P.D.O came into the project initially, as an interiors firm but I think the value Kerry and her team have added to the project is outstanding. The floor plans are to a level now where purchasers will see them as a high levels will see them as a high level, quality product as opposed to the more traditional cookie cutter apartment floor plans that are out there.

K.P.D.O is not solely an interiors practice, they are a strong, bespoke architectural firm, and they had some fantastic ideas on the development of the façade. Obviously we’re going through a conversion of an existing office building to high end residential so you really need something to be done with the façade to tie in with what we’re trying to achieve in terms of product quality.

Mark Fischer
Elenberg Fraser's scheme to that of K.P.D.O.'s

The façade design developed by K.P.D.O. plays on the concept of reflectivity drawing on its park setting, while allowing for a different visual experience from various angles around the site. The location and views on offer essentially dictated that the project had to deliver a quality product to prospective purchases, as development sites bordering significant parks are becoming increasingly scarce.

On a global scale, there are very limited opportunities to live directly within and amongst a mature parkland such as Fawkner Park. There are only a handful of examples in other global cities such as London, New York and Tokyo of premium residential buildings being on a parkside location, so this project has unparalleled attributes.

As the project is an existing office structure, we are able to retain the high ceilings and the building has been re-designed to deliver larger apartments, offering  purchasers an opportunity to consolidate apartments

This project is an example of how ageing office buildings along St Kilda Road can be converted into market-leading residential developments – the market has talked for a while about office-to-residential conversions, however this will be one of the first examples to launch in the market in recent times, and certainly the first of this scale, making it a unique offering

Mark Fischer

Resident facilities will include an impressive porte-cochere from St Kilda Road, 24-hour concierge service for residents, wine room and cellar, theatre, swimming pool, gymnasium, steam and massage rooms, children’s play spaces and communal meeting areas.

The project is currently in what Fischer describes as a “coming soon” phase and there is currently a display gallery available by appointment for VIP’s allowing potential purchasers to take in the views. The project will be officially launched to the market in the coming months and represents the second venture between Qualitas and LAS Group in recent times, following the recent completion of the Summerhill Shopping Centre in Melbourne's north. The Fawkner will further solidify this relationship.

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