In light of Malaysia's OSK Property preparing to begin works on the massive Melbourne Square development on Southbank, Urban Melbourne took the opportunity to chat with the developer's Managing Director, Ju Yan.
Covering all things Melbourne Square and the firm's grander Australian intentions, the interview transpired as follows:
UM: What prompted OSK to enter Melbourne as the first international venture for the company?
JY: As we embarked on our overseas expansion, we studied various market opportunities in several countries, and concluded that Australia is the most attractive market for OSK to grow for the long term.
We decided on investing in Melbourne because of the strong fundamentals of the market. Melbourne is a world-class city that has a strong economy, well-planned urban infrastructure, a great education system, quality healthcare, as well as a rich cultural and sporting scene. It is really no wonder that Melbourne has been named the world’s most liveable city for seven years in a row.
As the population in Melbourne grows, we believe that there will be growing demand for more quality urban housing, and Melbourne Square is our response to that market demand.
We believe that there is strong demand for a high-quality product that has unique amenities in the heart of Melbourne.
UM: How will OSK attract owner occupiers to an area which has traditionally delivered stock that is more investment grade?
JY: We’ve taken a conscious view to design a precinct that caters to owner occupiers by including amenities and design for an enhanced lifestyle.
Melbourne Square’s master plan provides for four residential towers, one commercial office tower and a hotel, with an active street-level retail offering surrounding a beautiful urban park. In stage one of our development, we will be delivering a 3,700 square metre park for the community in Southbank.
Within the development we will have a full-line supermarket, a childcare centre, alongside a unique F&B offerings. Due to the size of our development, we have also been able to deliver larger and a more comprehensive list of amenities, such as a large pool, multiple dining rooms, gazebos, a private theatre, a large gym, etc. There is also a premium indoor sky pool and sky gym at the 54th floor for premium unit owners.
Imagine a day in the life of a resident in Melbourne Square:
You can wake up in the morning, go to the gym for an early workout, then drop off your children at the childcare centre in the podium and walk to work in the CBD. On the way back in the evening, you can buy your groceries in the full-line supermarket in Melbourne Square, pick up your children from childcare, and then have a swim with them at our large pool.
After dinner, you put your kids to bed and have a night-cap while taking in the beautiful views at the sky lounge on the 54th floor. This is truly a unique lifestyle offering that Melbourne Square can deliver for our residents.
UM: Can you please provide a general breakdown of the apartment configurations/sizes? Are they larger than the norm?
JY: We are offering a range of high quality apartment styles from one, two and three bedrooms as well as penthouses. We have a generous number of two and three bedroom apartment offerings as we believe that Melbourne Square will rejuvenate Southbank and will transform how Southbank residents will live and play.
As a reflection of our focus on owner-occupiers, we have a large proportion of two and three bedroom apartments on offer. Only 22% of our apartments are one bedroom units, while 78% are two and three bedroom units.
Our one bedroom apartments will range from around 50 to 55 square metres.
UM: Is OSK targeting a high-end operator for the hotel currently?
JY: We are currently looking at a number of hotel operators that will realise our vision for the site. So far there is a strong level of interest from a number of international hotel operators, and we are working on the most suitable partner to deliver the right hotel product for Melbourne Square.
It’s important that we find the right partner and we look forward to being able to share more information with you soon.
UM: Is Melbourne Square OSK's sole intended project for Melbourne? Given it will be in development for some years to come, will OSK consider other projects in Melbourne or Australia in the interim?
Melbourne Square is OSK Property’s first project in Australia. Given the scale of the project, we will need around 10 years to complete building Melbourne Square.
For the time being, we will be purely focused on delivering Melbourne Square. In the longer term, we plan to expand our presence in Australia over time.
UM: Would the use/mix of future towers be reconsidered, dependent upon market conditions? Is there a delivery timeline for future towers?
JY: The masterplan approval for Melbourne Square provides for 380,000 square meters of above-ground gross floor area. The exact allocation of this space is flexible, and therefore we have some degree of flexibility to adjust the product offering as the market situation changes, subject to the necessary approvals by the relevant government authorities.
For the time being, we are committed to delivering what is reflected in the original approved masterplan.
UM: Is there an anticipated construction start date for stage one, or is that date dependent upon reaching a target sales mark? How have sales progressed thus far?
JY: Stage one has been approved and we are on track to start construction by the end of the year.
Interest from the VIP database has been very positive, and we expect a good response form the market when we officially launch the project. We recommend people register their interest now to receive VIP updates ahead of our grand launch in October 2017.