399 Little Lonsdale Street hits the heights

An existing development site has resurfaced seeking approval for a revised planning scheme that would inject a new 199 metre tower into central Melbourne, while also adding two new hotels into the rampant Melbourne market. Gone is the Peddle Thorp-designed 39 level apartment tower with 219 dwellings, replaced by a sleek 56 level tower comprising apartments and 447 new hotel suites.

Conceived for Melbourne-based Riverside Properties Pty Ltd, 399 Little Lonsdale Street represents the second large-scale project designed by K2LD Architects of late, following the recent planning submission for 1-5 Queen Street, also in Melbourne's CBD.

Project Summary

  • Revised plans submitted August 2014
  • 1,080sqm site currently a commercial car park and at grade space
  • Approved 39 level design replaced by 56 level mixed-use tower at 199 metres in height
  • A 4-star 207 bed hotel and a 3-star 240 bed hotel
  • 120 one and two bedroom apartments
  • Provision for 90 car parking spaces
The revised tower at 200 metres. Image courtesy K2LD Architects

Ownership intrigue

Riverside Properties have had 399 Little Lonsdale listed upon their website for many years, so much so it's still shown as an intended 20 level building carrying 130 student accommodation rooms. Upon approval of the more recent 39 level, Peddle Thorp designed tower, the site was offered for sale via CBRE.

Heralded as sold to a Singaporean-based investment firm entitled Well Smart Investment Holdings (Melb) Ltd, the current planning application form shows Well Smart Investment to be the applicant with the owner still listed as Riverside Properties Pty Ltd. Part of developer Clement Lee's Melbourne-based portfolio which includes, Riverlee, Asset1 and WTC Group, Riverside Properties Pty Ltd has apparently come full circle at 399 Little Lonsdale Street.

Design highlights

Headline changes to the approved development as taken from the Urbis planning report:

  • Changes from retail component at ground floor, to hotel and residential entrance/lobby with concierge.
  • Car parking removed from the podium levels to within the basement with car stackers. Hotel and apartment facilities will now activate the podium levels above.
  • Removal of all borrowed light from residential apartments.
  • Inclusion of a 3 and 4 star hotel providing 447 rooms.
  • Decrease in number of residential apartments to 120 one and two bedroom apartments.
  • Increase in floor to ceiling heights to improve amenity of rooms and apartments.
  • Increase in average apartment size
  • Activation of Findlay Lane

With increased height the most noticeable change, 399 Little Lonsdale Street also receives a new external skin to all aspects, comprising angulated façade panels which disturbs the otherwise smooth external finish. This random angulation over certain panels will cast differing shadows over the facade providing the tower with a dynamic aspect.

Much emphasis has been placed upon the ground level sphere in the revised planning report with a host of changes included in order to improve podium activation and the public experience. As mentioned the above ground car park allotment has been relocated to a basement facility while hotel suites and apartments will now activate the podium levels above ground.

Podium edges remain activated with hotel facilities and the concierge area creating increased people circulation over the previous scheme, while Finlay Alley will benefit from increased foot traffic as a secondary passageway.

From the ground up

  • G - Dual entrances for residential and hotel guests, services, vehicle access to rear of building
  • L1 - gym and offices
  • L2 - conference facilities
  • L3 - restaurant and bar with associated kitchen, meeting rooms and waiting lounge
  • L4 - reception for hotel components
  • L5-17 - 3 Star hotel suites
  • L18 - plant & 3 Star hotel suites
  • L19-38 - apartments
  • L39 - plant and 4 Star hotel suites
  • L40-54 - 4 Star hotel suites
  • L55 - 4 Star hotel suites, bar & lounge
  • L56 - plant
The 39 level superseded scheme. Image courtesy CBRE

Should 399 Little Lonsdale Street eventually gain approval it wouldn't necessarily seem out of place as the adjoining property at 272 Queen Street currently holds planning approval for a 210 metre mixed-use tower, although that site has been offered for sale for some time.

In its current form Clement Lee's Riverside Properties Pty Ltd may seek construction for 399 Little Lonsdale Street soon after approval. Another of Mr. Lee's recent developments at 206 A'Beckett Street in the northern reaches of the CBD delivered 278 studio apartments and suites under the newly formed Pegasus Apart’Hotel brand.

Considering the relatively low number of apartments located within the revised 399 Little Lonsdale scheme and the possibility that another Pegasus Apart'Hotel may account for one of the two hotel sections, the revised design could in theory gain the necessary pre-commitments to proceed to construction shortly after approval.

Development team

  • Developer: Well Smart Investment Holdings (Melb) Ltd on behalf of Riverside Properties Pty Ltd
  • Planning: Urbis
  • Architect: K2LD Architects
  • Traffic: Salt3
  • Wind Impact Advice: MEL Consultants
  • Waste Management Plan: Leigh Design
  • ESD: WSP Sustainable Management Plan

Lead image courtesy CBRE.


Rohan Storey's picture

I really dont see how this site is developable, or rather a larger number of the units created will not be pleasant to be in / get much light. Without plans, Im guessing theres a 3m setback on the east side ? or do they own the low building next door ? Perhaps they are relying on the 20m height limit on that side along Hardware Street but they're hardly worth the paper they're written on are they ?

So rooms there may end up looking at another tower, while on the west side, they will definitely be looking straight at another tower, possibly 3m away ? I expect that's the core side, but theres still windows there....and at the rear the lower levels will be looking out at another building, but I suppose thats the safest side since 408 lonsdale is subdivided residential. No wonder its so tall. And i guess you dont expect hotel rooms to have views....

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Bilby's picture

I do, Rohan - it's just that I usually can't afford the ones with views. Still, it's one thing to put up with a view of a neighbouring apartment or wall while on holiday, it's another to live with it all year round.

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