Docklands receives a double shot in the arm

Two key projects have emerged in recent days within Docklands that will for differing reasons create an improved experience and/or environment within the oft maligned suburb adjoining Melbourne's CBD.

It's been announced that Harbour Town Melbourne will receive a multi-million dollar transparent roof canopy, providing shelter from Melbourne's variable weather. Instigated by AsheMorgan who purchased the 40,000sqm retail precinct from ING Real Estate, the canopy and associated facade/amenities regeneration represents the first in a series of upgrades set for Harbour Town Melbourne with the intent of establishing the northern Docklands precinct as one of Melbourne’s premier shopping and entertainment destinations.

Buchan Group and Red Design Group are responsible for the alterations and additions to Harbour Town Melbourne, having been charged with the task of creating a clean, contemporary and inviting feel for the area.

In addition to the sprawling canopy, certain pedestrian bridges and escalators which have been deemed to be underutilised will be removed, resulting in the creation of two new plazas. These new spaces are expected to accommodate public events and rotating interactive displays upon completion.

Initial images of Harbour Town's upgrade. Images courtesy AsheMorgan

We based our concept for the centre around the proposition that Harbour Town Melbourne was already unique in its outdoor living environment.

Using that, our design theme draws on the natural environment with recessed timbers contrasting with vegetation to soften the walkways – ultimately creating a ‘green oasis’ and an opportunity to engage with customers with a range of pause points along their shopping journey.

Colin Bell, Creative Director Red Design

The overriding design imperative for the canopy project is to touch as lightly and unobtrusively as possible on the ‘open’ sense of the existing centre. We have the opportunity to enhance the customer experience by providing additional protection from the elements and incorporating a simple and elegant ‘floating’ canopy that allows natural light to penetrate and provide a year-round outdoor shopping experience.

Joe Genovesi, Buchan Group Design Principal

AsheMorgan have indicated that this first phase is one of a number of initiatives that will see a substantial investment in Harbour Town Melbourne by the Brisbane-based outfit. AsheMorgan Principal Alton Abrahams expects the implementation of the first phase of Harbour Town Melbourne's masterplan will breathe new life into the precinct.

Including Harbour Town Melbourne (40,818sqm of GLA), associated car parks (2,818 car spaces) and the Medibank Ice House, AsheMorgan also hold a number of development sites with approved masterplan for the precinct.

A first glimpse inside Docklands’ first five-star hotel. Image courtesy Peppers

Nearby and the first image has emerged of the suburb's first completed five-star hotel suite within Peppers Docklands. Located at 679 La Trobe Street, Peppers Docklands is part of the M Docklands mixed-use tower which is being developed by Capital Alliance Investment Group as their first Melbourne project.

The completed prototype hotel suite has been delivered ahead of the project's scheduled completion during early 2016, with builder Hamilton Marino undertaking works on the $140 million project. Designed by Elenberg Fraser as an accompanying tower to the adjoining LaCrosse building, M Docklands features 87 five-star hotel suites and 186 private apartments atop a podium containing 11 retail tenancies.

We’re proud to be playing a significant role in the emergence of a revitalised Docklands. Docklands is already home to world-class facilities such as Etihad Stadium, which attracts visitors from across Australia and indeed around the world.

If you look at the situation in Melbourne, demand for hotel rooms is projected to grow and grow. It made perfect sense for us to partner with a well-respected hotel operator like Mantra Group and lead the way in bringing luxury accommodation to the Docklands – keeping tourists in the area and driving the local economy.

Mohan Du, Managing Director and Founder of Capital Alliance

Docklands is in need of a sophisticated hotel product to cater to an increasingly selective global market that is looking for quality, location and facilities of a world class calibre. Peppers Docklands has this, and will set a benchmark for future mixed-use developments in Australia.

Mantra Group (Peppers operator) CEO Bob East

The delivery of Peppers Docklands is a boost for the precinct's ability to provide premium hotel suites following the stalled beginning to The Altus at 238 Harbour Esplanade, Docklands. Precious little has occurred onsite following a turning of the first sod ceremony held during October 2014.

Construction has yet to commence for the project which features 281 suites under the 4.5 star Parkroyal brand.

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