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DELWP endorses stage one of Melbourne Square

OSK Property's first foray into the Melbourne market appears to be on track with the first stage of its six tower, Melbourne Square development on Southbank receiving stage one endorsement from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

Located on a large at ground car park in Southbank bounded by the Westgate Freeway and Kavanagh, Balston and Power Streets, Melbourne Square will transform a city block into a mixed-use vertical village, with six towers of varying programme, set amongst an expansive network of elevated gardens and parks.

The view of Melbourne Square's pleated towers. Image courtesy OSK Property.

Designed by Cox Architecture, almost 20 per cent or 3,700sqm of the site will be dedicated to public realm, in addition to delivering long needed community infrastructure. Cox worked closely with architects Rush Wright Associates for the masterplan and Taylor Cullity Lethlean for stage one with their aim to develop a civic hub, incorporating lush greenery.

The new neighbourhood around Melbourne Square takes one of the last development opportunities in Southbank and, via a prescient and sensitive masterplan, provides a true mixed use precinct with a verdant, green space at its heart. A deliberate decision was made to significantly exceed the open space area requirements for Southbank – we believe this is an essential feature in providing a superior quality of life for the community.

Ian Sutter, Director, Cox Architecture

Stage one not only encompasses these key public spaces with a central park, but also critical services and amenities in the form of a shopping centre and childcare centre as well as two elliptical residential towers delivering 1,000 apartments defined by their shimmering pleated facades. Future stages will also feature a hotel, commercial office tower and further apartments. The first luxury apartment sales will commence in mid 2017.

It is our hope that Melbourne Square will be an important destination within the world’s most liveable city. Besides having a high quality design element, stage one of our project has several attractive features, such as a beautiful urban park, a large format supermarket, a childcare facility and a comprehensive set of resident amenities. We hope it will be a place for people of all ages to enjoy, with its beautiful public park drawing people in from across the city. This is an important project for Southbank’s future.

Tan Sri Ong Leong Huat, Chairman, OSK Property

Urban Melbourne picked the brain of CBRE Managing Director of Residential Project Marketing, Andrew Leoncelli to try to gain a better understanding of how Melbourne Square will position itself within the Southbank market.

Urban Melbourne: Melbourne Square will finally deliver a lot of the amenity and services Southbank residents have been demanding for so long. Are you surprised it’s taken this long?

Andrew Leoncelli: Yes and no! Every developer has worried about their own back yard, with single buildings being delivered and minimal retail amenity in the ground floor. It's incredibly rare to get such a massive land holding in excess of 22,000 square metres. This is the site that can - and will - deliver both retail and public realm amenity never seen before in Southbank. That's why we are so excited about Melbourne Square!

UM: What are your impressions of the Southbank market at present? And how do you think Melbourne Square is placed to perform in the Southbank market?

AL: Southbank has taken a giant leap forward in profile and quality of developments. Notorious in the past for very affordable entry level investment product and a couple of super high-quality developments, the recent launches have re-established the benchmark for quality level of amenity and profile, particularly on the back of Australia 108's stunning success.

Melbourne Square is a unique product offering with a genuine point of difference. It's a mini mixed-use city with commercial office, hotel, shopping centre and an enormous public realm that includes Southbank's largest public park of over 3700 square metres.

UM: Speaking to a few other developers it appears to have matured a lot more since the 2000’s and buyers have become more discerning. Would you agree?

AL: I agree entirely. Buyers these days want extensive amenities to ensure their tenants have a real lifestyle amenity that the new projects are providing. Older style apartments can't compete and are losing tenants to the new builds.

Given the higher round of density, the costs of providing these amenities are spread over many more lots so owners don't have to pay high owners corporation fees but still get all the benefits of the pools, gyms, movie rooms, karaoke bars, private dining rooms, communal lounges, golf simulators, etc.

The other point is that buyers are demanding cutting edge, luxury interiors. It's become a super race to deliver the highest quality interiors matched with the best possible architecture. Projects like Australia 108, Crown's new development and Melbourne Square are all delivering product way above the quality of the existing apartments in Southbank.

UM: Where do you expect buyer interest will come from? Locals? Interstate? Investors? Owner-Occupiers? Families?

AL: We have made all Melbourne Square apartment product larger to cater for a more mature buyer market. Instead of cramming apartments in wherever we can, with the smallest stock possible, we have made a strategic choice to grow sizing of one bedroom product and to add three bedroom apartments on every level. Buyers, from local owner-occupiers to investors from Australia and throughout South East Asia, are demanding bigger and better apartment product.

UM: Is it fair to say that Melbourne Square will be a game changer for Southbank?

AL: Absolutely. The seven day a week retail activity with the hotel, shopping centre and the commercial office uses, mixed with the stunning residential community that we'll be delivering, all set around the largest and only park in Southbank. This is not just another tall building! That's our point of difference. Buyers get the benefit of the total precinct.

UM: Most of the higher quality developments within Southbank have been alongside or close to the river. Do you think Melbourne Square will become a benchmark that will see a similar pedigree pop up and help activate the ‘backstreets’?

AL: Melbourne Square is only a short walk to Crown and the Yarra River precinct. The development is on the doorstep of the Melbourne's arts precinct, moments from the Royal Botanic Gardens and the St Kilda Road Domain village. We stand behind our location as being ideally situated and incredibly convenient.

Sales and construction of stage one is expected to commence in 2017.

6 comments

gobillino's picture

Any intel on the retail component (scale and format)? The continual use of the term "shopping centre" is a bit of a worry...

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Nicholas Harrison's picture

I think Southbank needs a well designed full sized supermarket + target style shopping centre rather than yet more cafes and restaurants.

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gobillino's picture

Oh it is definitely in dire need of that kind of retail Nicholas. It just also needs it to contribute towards street activation and an improved public realm. 'Shopping centre' sounds positively archaic these days. Conjures up car park mall imagery. Something that is largely internalized but gives back to the street (like the Coles on Clarendon St) would be fine. It's a shame that the central equity beasts next door to the Community Centre are dead at street level. A nice main street anchored by a community centre and semi internalised retail on this site along Balston might have been a nice outcome.

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George D's picture

To get those outcomes would require some actual... planning.

If only we had a Minister for such things.

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johnproctor's picture

actually Council have much more responsibility than the Minister for planning for those things.

Council sets the structure plan upon which development approvals should be based.

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Peter H's picture

"by they're shimmering pleated facades"
should read
"by their shimmering pleated facades"

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