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Lendlease forges ahead with Melbourne Quarter

Lendlease's Melbourne Quarter development, located within the Batman's Hill precinct of Melbourne's Docklands is aspiring to be a sustainable new city neighbourhood that will cater for 3,000 future residents in approximately 1,690 dwellings across three towers.

The three residential towers have been designed by Melbourne architectural firm Fender Katsalidis Architects. The first residential building, known as East Tower, will feature a wide variety of one, two and three bedroom apartments and is currently at sales. Located at 628 Flinders Street, the 40-storey development will offer views of the city and bay and will feature hanging gardens climbing the full height of the building.

The precinct has been designed with a strong environmental focus, with more than half of the 2.5 hectare site dedicated to open public spaces including Melbourne’s first elevated Skypark, a neighbourhood park, a new public square and a series of retail laneways which upon completion will connect to the existing CBD.

Melbourne Quarter aerial view. Image courtesy of Lendlease

Melbourne Quarter, with its residential neighbourhood next to a thriving commercial district, offers the opportunity to live next to work, which is increasingly appealing for young professional owner occupiers and investors with a keen eye on the leasing market.

Lendlease prides itself on the high quality of its apartment designs. Melbourne Quarter’s competitively priced apartments will provide a range of one, two and three bedroom city residences, with added value in their design features, location and amenity compared to what our CBD competitors are offering. We are already receiving strong market interest for Melbourne Quarter’s East Tower.

Melbourne Quarter aspires to set leading standards as an environmentally sensitive and sustainable development, that will see all residential towers target a 5-Star Green Star rating.

Mark Menhinnitt, Managing Director for Urban Regeneration, Lendlease

Urban Melbourne recently spoke to Ben Christie, Lendlease's Head of Apartments, about the residential component of the project and how Lendlease are seeking to distinguish their product in an overcrowded market.

Urban Melbourne: Could you outline the smart technologies that are being implemented across the residential towers?

Ben Christie: The ability to connect our residents to the wider community is something we've been looking to introduce and they'll able to do that via an app. It'll be a project specific app that can be accessed via an iPad or iPhone and allow residents to book the extensive communal facilities which that are in the buildings which comprise 'Club MQ'. With 'Club MQ' we're looking at setting a new benchmark with the level of amenity that we're providing and this will be available in the first tower and then the two other towers will share from that.

UM: Is the provision of a concierge/hotel style facilities designed to attract more owner-occupiers rather than investors?

BC: They tend to attract both, in my experience. Certainly we've seen a growing market for time-poor professionals that want to live in the city or close to the city and the services that our concierge will provide, will help those time poor professionals, who live busy lives with the things they need to do. Additionally it will also assist families, which are a growing demographic in apartments who are also time poor, trying to spend extra time with each other so they'll probably use services for ordering food, collecting mail, having laundry picked up and so on.

We think these buildings will attract young professionals and families, with a greater number likely to be young professionals and time-poor executives but it will also be attractive to investors because the concierge service will assist in achieving premium rentals as tenants so our assumption is that it will be attractive to tenants as well, which makes it attractive to investors.

UM: It could be argued that many other more recent residential developments employ a concierge and smart technology. What makes Melbourne Quarter different?

BC: I think what you're touching on there is right and concierge services aren't a new phenomenon. The difference here at Melbourne Quarter is the level of service that we'll be providing and the level of amenity we'll be providing at 'Club MQ' as part of the project. Customers, tenants and purchasers alike are becoming far more discerning and are demanding more of their buildings and more from the services the buildings provide, so our point of difference is that rather than just a standard concierge service we're providing a luxury concierge service in very much a hotel-style offering.

The concierge you might see historically in buildings don't go to the full extent that we feel our customers now seek. The added benefit of the service is that it acts a security service as well: we'll have two full time concierges on-site, 7 days a week.

Melbourne Quarter Neighbourhood Park. Image courtesy Lendlease

UM: What is the anticipated construction commencement for East Tower? Will the delivery of Melbourne Quarter be staged or will a common podium for the project be delivered in one hit? Is there a nominal completion date for the whole project?

BC: We're starting with Arup's tenancy as we have a commitment there but Lendlease being a mixed-use developer, we have the ability to deliver these buildings simultaneously. We have only recently received planning approval for the residential buildings but we've had a lot of strong activity in our sales process and it's been very encouraging from the market, from both investors and owner occupiers but we haven't finalised a date for the commencement of the residential towers as yet. At this stage we have a conservative completion of 2022 or around 6 years of construction, but we'd like to and are aiming to deliver it faster.

We at Lendlease have significant experience in large-scale urban regeneration projects and so we can deliver commercial, residential and retail infrastructure simultaneously and our staging plan will be such that it will be very customer focused to engage people at the ground plane both within the commercial and residential components. And that is one of the important factors when delivering these types of complex projects. Each neighbourhood could be built independently of one another but they won't be. The team have received a lot of interest from prospective tenants for the commercial buildings and the feedback thus far has been positive.

Laurence, it is interesting when you ask about the decoupling of residential to commercial. Certainly, the residential buildings are focused somewhat to Flinders Street and the commercial buildings are somewhat focused to Collins Street and then we have an extensive laneway with a lot of retail offering which links the two, so they are intertwined.

One of the reasons, I'd like to add is that Melbourne Quarter will be home to 3,000 residents when it's complete and a lot of those residents could easily be people that work at Melbourne Quarter as well. With a lot of our mixed-use projects around the world we find that people like to live near where they work so often we attract young professionals that work at Arup or any other tenant we might secure who also live in one of the residential buildings.

It provides a very efficient lifestyle, it works for the investors, it works for the tenants. Imagine you were working at Arup, you're going home to your apartment in Melbourne Quarter and you can order your dinner when you leave the office and it's there when you get home. There's some great things you could do with our concierge service.

Flinders Street entrance lobby. Image courtesy Lendlease

Club MQ

Lendlease has provided Urban Melbourne with a summary of the facilities available to all residents as part of Club MQ, including:

  • Hotel-style grand arrival entrance to Club MQ (off Flinders Street), with undercover drop-off and concierge service.
  • Secondary pedestrian lobby to the Club MQ and apartments off the precinct Neighbourhood Park (access via the new laneway connecting Collins and Flinders Streets).
  • Swimming Pool (25 metres in length).
  • Spa and change room amenity.
  • Steam room.
  • Sauna facilities.
  • All-purpose gym.
  • Multipurpose function/yoga room.
  • Residents library and lounge.
  • Theatrette for 20 people.
  • Three internal private dining areas featuring outdoor terraces and BBQ amenity.
  • Access to other precinct amenities includes Melbourne Quarter’s Skypark, Melbourne Square, Neighbourhood Park and a diverse retail offering within the Melbourne Quarter precinct.
Club MQ facilities. Image courtesy Lendlease

While the residential component is at sales and marketing, Lendlease aren't wasting anytime getting on with the rest of the development. Arup's 3-storey office tenancy within the One Melbourne Quarter building is currently under construction, delivering a new sky park above Collins Street with a second 27-storey commercial building at 681-701 Collins Street, recently submitted for planning consideration with an end value of $550 million.

The delivery of the $2 billion Melbourne Quarter project is anticipated to generate approximately 15,000 construction jobs over the life of the project. On completion, its commercial offices are expected to be home to around 10,000 workers.

Melbourne Quarter Tower from Collins Street. Image courtesy Lendlease

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