A winter of construction content

This winter shapes as a boom period for Melbourne's commercial builders if the number of projects beginning their construction cycle is any indicator. Sweeping through the Urban Melbourne project database and limiting a project to its early works stage, specifically piling, site retention and bulk excavation, there are no less than 42 projects spread throughout metropolitan Melbourne in their infancy.

Urban Melbourne's project database is currently tracking 207 projects in the broader 'Under Construction' category, with the aforementioned 42 projects accounting for an impressive 20% of all projects under construction.

While the line between early and main works can be blurred, the sheer number of projects about greater Melbourne commencing construction points toward the overall strength and underlying demand of the apartment sector, considering the sector account for the vast majority of construction projects underway.

Botanica Balwyn's progress during late May

While the major construction firms content themselves with big ticket builds in and around the CBD, it's the proliferation of medium and smaller sized apartment projects in middle and outer suburbs which has led to the spike in construction starts and the rise of a new breed of builders.

As previously small constructors such as Hacer, Hamilton Marino and ABD Group expand in size and capabilities to fill the void left by the multitude of projects attracting Melbourne's biggest builders, so do smaller builders step up to fill the void in the tiers below. Relatively new names such as Lexicon, Orange Building Solutions, Team Building, TriBuild Constructions, Project Group and Shangri-La can be seen across Melbourne building sites.

While 42 projects are identified at an early works stage, they're located in no less than 31 separate Melbourne suburbs which points toward the tremendous spread of apartment living options now available throughout the metropolitan area. Doncaster for example holds four projects at early works, namely Magnolia, 88 Tram Road, 8 Hepburn Road and 83 on Tram while the Melbourne is represented by Light House, La Trobe Tower, Victoria One and Royal Elizabeth.

Notable projects set to rise this winter include the long stalled and almost forgotten Echo South Yarra which is in the hands of Hutchinson Builders while piling continues on La Trobe Tower which will feature a new building technology, namely Hickory Group's integrated Hickory Building System.

Overall the 42 projects sum to in excess of 4,900 apartments with all the projects set to begin rising skyward in the near future. Not to be forgotten is Collins Square Tower 5 which as the sole commercial development is at bulk excavation and will eventually provide Docklands with another 34,000 plus square metres of premium commercial space.

Toorak Park's 450 plus apartments under the guidance of Lend Lease

The count of 42 doesn't include the array of sites that have been cleared in preparation for construction. Recent sites to be cleared include 8 Hopkins Street Footscray, Heidi Apartments in Heidelberg, Pellicano's Quest Dandenong development, 80 Collins Street and 11 Central Avenue Moorabbin, with the latter quartet having their builders waiting in the wings.

Of course the largest of all, Australia 108 is in the same position with Brookfiled Multiplex poised to initiate piling on what will be Melbourne's tallest building upon completion.

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