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Blackburn's 'Lexus' site edges closer to major development, but...

Taouk Architects continue to refine a working design for Blackburn's 'Lexus' site. Newly released imagery of the mixed-use development for the substantial land holding at 160 Whitehorse Road now includes a heightened degree of complexity and design detail, and is similar to earlier concepts in showing multiple buildings rising to 14 levels.

The project which includes near on 400 apartments has however stumbled at its initial planning run.

Lodged with City of Whitehorse during April, Council has acted swiftly in refusing the application that would have seen 14, 10, 10 and 8 storey buildings set above three levels of basement parking. Delegate refusal was issued in under two months from its submission date.

In the rendered form below 160 Whitehorse Road would simultaneously have become Blackburn's tallest development and (by some margin) its largest development to date.

Rendered concept for 160 Whitehorse Road. Image: Taouk Architects

Former owner Lexus Australia chose to offload the site at the peak of Melbourne's development site sales boom during 2015.

Billed as a Blackburn's premier site during its 2015 sales campaign, the largely vacant 8,767sqm block is zoned Commercial 1 and allows for residential, commercial and retail uses. 160 Whitehorse Road also maintains approximately 295m of frontage to Whitehorse Road & Railway Parade.

Having sold for $18 million to an Asian-backed developer two years ago, 160 Whitehorse Road's price history has seen steady growth. Previous campaigns saw the site sell for $11.36 million in 2010, $3.25 million in 1986 and $1.3 million in 1980.

The possibility of towers appearing across the site would be a departure from the norm for Blackburn. Over recent years residential builds of 4-6 levels adjacent to Blackburn Station have become common place, while Apollo Blackburn directly opposite the 'Lexus' site is currently at sales with five levels the approved outcome.

Planning overlays for Blackburn and the adjoining Mega Mile have indicated that 160 Whitehorse Road is the area's 'gateway' site and as such can exceed the recommended height limit of 21 metres, reflecting its "status as a visually prominent landmark."

Scale and stageabilty. Image: CBRE City Sales

For its part, Taouk Architects describe their working design as follows:

Located within the major activity centre, Blackburn Place comprises of 4 towers connected via shared ground areas comprising of retail and office spaces designed to flow with landscaped communal areas. Combined Blackburn Place provides 394 apartments through the various tower heights of the complex.

Utilising massing form and façade articulation, the design applies various elements to soften its presentation to each adjoining streetscapes.

Layered, projecting and interlocking architectural elements combine with a neutral palette of colours and materials to help make Blackburn Place a benchmark for future developments in the area.

Taouk Architects
Rendered concept for 160 Whitehorse Road. Image: Taouk Architects

The development team's next step in the approvals process has yet to play out at planning.

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