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Pulse of the construction industry: Melbourne tower crane count March 2016

Has much of anything changed in the past six months regarding Melbourne's commercial construction output? 

There has been a spike in tower crane usage throughout Melbourne since the last census conducted during October 2015, contrary to the prediction made by Urban Melbourne. As of last week there were 161 tower cranes (give or take one or two units) plying their trade Melbourne-wide, a noteworthy jump of 17 relative to the October 2015 figure.

Whilst the top end of town remains steady and well served by incumbents such as General Cranes, MCG Cranes, Select Cranes and the like, the majority of growth has occurred in the suburbs where the proliferation of small and medium sized apartment development continues to flourish. Growth in the overall tower crane count is due to a new breed of smaller tower cranes employed to service this growing sector.

Smaller cranes for smaller builds have become all the more popular

Set aside the natural skew toward the City of Melbourne and the numbers reveal a relatively even spread of tower cranes throughout metropolitan Melbourne. Doncaster and Box Hill continue to be apartment hot spots as evidenced by the number of cranes in use through Manningham and Whitehorse. A notable mention also goes to Brunswick East with a handful of projects beginning their skyward path in recent months.

Of the cranes in use, a sizeable 85% are for residential use, including student accommodation and retirement living projects.

Residential Tower Crane Location Tower Cranes
Melbourne CBD 19
Docklands - Nth/West/East Melbourne 23
Fishermans Bend/Southbank/Carlton/Parkville 13
Port Phillip - Glen Eira 12
Yarra 12
Moonee Valley - Maribyrnong - Moreland 19
Manningham - Whitehorse - Boroondara 20
Wider metro Melbourne 19

A period of firsts

The past six months have yielded a number of firsts, with the first tower cranes appearing within two urban renewal projects; Fisahermans Bend and Footscray's Joseph Road Precinct.

New logos mounted across Melbourne's skyline are evident with first time users of tower cranes continuing to flow through. The likes of Buildcept, Liberty Builders, AG Constructions and EyeQ Constructions all notching up the milestone of sorts since the last census.

The tallest hammerhead to be used in Melbourne also made its mark atop Brady Group's Vision Tower whilst a sorry MCG Cranes unit continues to sit forlornly atop 150 Queen Street. Achieving precious little over a two year period, the tower crane is a rather overt reminder of the legal struggles that CEL Australia have endured in realising Tower Melbourne.

Lend Lease powers ahead

The newest builds within Lend Lease's Victoria Harbour. Image courtesy Oh Yes Melbourne

Lend Lease is enjoying a purple patch with 12 tower cranes spread across two large residential developments and RMIT's New Academic Street project. The ever strong Victoria Harbour is currently sporting 6 tower cranes spread over a handful of residential towers which will accommodate near on 1,500 apartments upon completion

Toorak Park is also in full swing with five tower cranes delivering the residential enclave which holds an Orrong Road address. Lend Lease's 12 tower cranes in use sits behind the current 13 employed by Brookfield Multiplex, with residential builder Hamilton Marino in third place with 10 in use.

With Arup signed to Lend Lease's Melbourne Quarter, the developer also has another large-scale Melbourne project set to start.

High times ahead

The point at which the next Urban Melbourne Crane Count is conducted will invariably throw up two projects with newly installed tower cranes. Both Australia 108 and Aurora Melbourne Central are roughly tracking square with one another in terms of where they find themselves in construction progression.

The marquee projects will yield in excess of 2,000 private apartments between them and in Aurora's case an additional 200+ serviced apartments.

With build times out to 2019 and beyond, these two skyline defining projects will act as a visible 'backbone' for Melbourne's immense construction boom for some years to come.

The current state of Aurora Melbourne Central
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