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Project renders of the 555 Collins Street development

Collins Street West set for significant change

With the bulk of Melbourne CBD's current high-rise boom centred largely along the northern reaches of Elizabeth Street, there's now a shift back towards Melbourne's traditional main street of Collins Street. This is evidenced by six significant projects at various stages of their life-cycles, which are set to transform the western end of the traditional Hoddle Grid, bringing with it further street life and activity.

The buildings range in height from seven to over 60-storeys with a collection around the 150 metre mark and while predominantly residential in nature will also include over 100,000sqm of office space and hotel suites. A variety of architects have been employed to design them with Woods Bagot, Bates Smart, SHoP, Zaha Hadid and Grimshaw amongst the roll call.

Below is a brief update of where each project is currently at:

555 Collins Street (Approved), lead image

Enterprise House at 555 Collins Street as it currently stands. Image courtesy of The Age

The former site of the Federal Coffee Palace is set to undergo another metamorphosis following the recent approval of the 147 metre Bates Smart designed tower for owners Fragrance Group. Located at 555 Collins Street the development would comprise 625 apartments and a retail plaza at ground level that connects to the adjacent 567 Collins Street retail laneway.

The development would have a floor area ratio/plot ratio of 1:24, which is significantly more than the requirements of Planning Scheme Amendment C270 but in line with the interim controls of C262.

Long after notions of a 400 metre commercial tower and in the wake of Fragrance Group's early ambitions for a 300 metre mixed use monolith onsite, the revised Bates Smart-designed residential scheme received the green light from Planning Minister Richard Wynne.

This process of approval had taken place in parallel with the site being offered for sale following Fragrance Group's initial failure to gain a permit for the site. With work set to commence on Fragrance Group's signature tower at 134 Spencer Street next month, it remains to be seen whether the developer will retain the site or seek to offload it with permit in hand.

600 Collins Street (Approved)

600 Collins Street. Image courtesy ZHA

The 54-storey, 186 metre tower designed by the late Zaha Hadid in collaboration with locals Plus Architecture was approved in July. With its current status on the minister's planning register listed as being at "Appeal" it would appear this may be a case of the applicant appealing a number of conditions associated with the permit.

Regardless of the outcome, it would be surprising if owner's Landream were to 'flip' the site with the permit which allows for 420 apartments and 10,000sqm of office and retail space, a new laneway, a plaza along Collins Street and an art space.

The project looks to have set a precedent for other towers looking to go beyond the interim plot ratio of 24:1 and the new ratio 18:1 by providing some form of "public benefit." Already there are examples of this with Jean Nouvel's 383 LaTrobe Street employing a 25 metre high digital art space and 555 Collins Street a plaza similar to 600 Collins via its tapering vase-like base.

As yet there is no firm timeline for the project.

447 Collins Street / Collins Arch (Demolition)

Collins Arch demolition has resumed. Photos courtesy of Alastair Taylor and Ryan Seychell

Demolition on the remainder of the existing structure is in full swing, following the official groundbreaking ceremony and project launch earlier this month. The event was attended by representatives from Cbus Property, Lord Mayor Robert Doyle and planning Minister Richard Wynne.

Pre-sales of the project's 202 luxury apartments is due to launch by the end of the month, with an announcement on a hotel operator for the five-star, 294-room hotel imminent.

Cbus has already signed on legal firm King & Wood Mallesons for space in the the 43,000sqm commercial component. The project will also see the creation of a 1,500sqm public park at the base of the arch, following City of Melbourne agreeing to shut half of Market Street.

Collins Arch's new public park. Image courtesy of Cbus Property

477 Collins Street / Olderfleet Place (Demolition)

Demolition of the existing car park along Flinders Lane has commenced. Photo courtesy of Ryan Seychell

With Mirvac formally signing accountancy firm Deloitte as the anchor tenant for their flagship Premium Grade office tower at 477 Collins Street, the developer has wasted no time in commencing demolition of the existing parking structure along Flinders Lane, with the existing DCM designed office building to follow suit.

Construction will begin in earnest next year once the site has been cleared of all but the three heritage listed buildings; The Olderfleet, Records Chamber and South Australian Insurance. 477 Collins Street will be the tallest office building to be constructed in the area for almost 20 years. The project is due to be complete in 2020.

466 Collins Street / Collins House (Demolition)

The rear of the Makers Mark building being demolished to make way for the pencil thin tower. Photo courtesy of Ryan Seychell

With the rear of the Maker's Mark building being cleared builder Hickory will commence construction of what is being billed as Australia's slimmest tower for Golden Age Group. Due to the small footrpint of the site, Hickory will employ their special Building System and a single tower crane which is set to reduce the construction programme by up to 30% allowing for a 29 month build.

The structure utilises conventional formwork up to the level 14 cantilever, at which stage prefabricated Hickory structural units will be used for the remainder of the project. According to Hickory the 60 level tower is set to be completed by October 2018.

535 Collins Street (Under Construction)

Rialto Renewal project at 535 Collins Street. Photo courtesy of Ryan Seychell

The new headquarters for the Bank of Melbourne is nearing completion and with it a refurbishment of the Rialto tower's ground level lobby in time for its 30th birthday celebrations. The Woods Bagot-designed 'podium' building features the use of rotating, offset glazing which has a similar tint to the Rialto's original curtain wall facade.

With the Grollo Group's recent acquisition of the adjacent building which currently houses Bar 20, the Rialto's expansion may continue down King Street but hopefully not at the expense of more heritage fabric.

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