Two giants round out Central Equity's massive development pipeline

2015 shapes as a pivotal year for Central Equity with three current sizebale planning applications for the Southbank-based developer set to underpin their intentions for the coming years. After highlighting 71-87 City Road during October, the wraps are now off 268-274 City Road on Southbank and 556-558 Lonsdale Street within Melbourne's CBD.

The latter two if delivered in their initial form would have a joint development value approaching $350 million. Coupled with 71-87 City Road the three proposals which are still before the Minister for Planning and DELWP would all comfortably surpass the 200 metre height benchmark, a first for Central Equity which has for years elected to stick with towers of lesser height.

While the towers will almost invariably be subject to design refinements as they pass through the planning process, they do represent Central Equity's next tranche of high density projects. In recent years Central Equity like many other developers in the Melbourne apartment market has enjoyed robust demand for its product which has seen a handful of their projects sell heavily in next to no time.

The towers at planning are a continuation of Central Equity's penchant for not tinkering with their winning formula. Doig Architecture and Guilford Bell & Graham Fisher Architects are the design firms behind either tower highlighted below, each having an established relationship with the prolific developer which has yielded many residential projects over recent years.

268-274 City Road development summary

Doig Architecture's 268-274 City Road
  • Design: Doig Architecture
  • Proposed: 70 level tower at 222 metres
  • Historic building onsite retained within podium structure
  • 570 apartments: 237 x 1BR, 271 x 2BR, 62 x 3BR
  • 273sqm ground floor retail tenancy
  • Provision for 221 vehicles and 309 bicycles
  • Level 10 amenities including terrace, pool, cinema and gym
  • Estimated development cost: $120 million

556-558 Lonsdale Street development summary

556-558 Lonsdale Street in its initial form
  • Design: Guilford Bell & Graham Fisher Architects
  • Likely to be titled Melbourne Grand Apartments
  • Site area: 2,187sqm
  • Proposed: 67 level tower at 233 metres to top
  • 889 apartments: 100 x studio, 262 x 1BR, 366 x 2BR, 161 x 3BR
  • 3 ground floor retail tenancies
  • Provision for 308 vehicles and 275 bicycles
  • Amenities including pool, gym, theatre room, function room and common area
  • Estimated development cost: $200 million
71-87 City Road, 54-68 Kavanagh Street and 1 Balston Street

556-558 Lonsdale Street and 268-274 City Road join 71-87 City Road as Central Equity's projects which are still at planning, with all three lodged just prior to the implementation of the Metropolitan Planning Levy which commenced on 1 July 2015. In addition, 54-68 Kavanagh Street was granted a planning permit in recent days, allowing for a further 597 dwellings.

Brookfield Multiplex has established itself as Central Equity's builder of choice, with three builds for the developer in progress. Southbank's 1 Balston Street is at piling while 612 Lonsdale Street and 601 Little Lonsdale Street are well into construction.

Overall Central Equity has approximately 1,410 apartments currently under construction, 597 approved by way of 54-68 Kavanagh Street and 2,241 seeking approval as per the initial planning submissions mid year.


Riddlz's picture

268 City road has some design merit but that Lonsdale street one... oh dear...

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db2's picture

The Melbourne City Council should object to the Lonsdale Street tower since it is awful and massive over-development.

This is far worse than the Flinders Street tower that the MCC call an over-development. At 233m this penetrates the OLS which Wynnie will notice.

Southbank scheme is alright.

Both a likely to proceed since Central Equity always seems to get what they want no matter who is in power. Funny that.

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johnproctor's picture

would be interesting to see a plan view of the tower on City Road with setbacks. looks pretty imposing on the site.

great looking design (from this single angle)...

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Mateusz Gwozdz's picture

Better another tower in Southbank than 570 new dwellings built on fertile farm land out in Packenham.

Can't please everybody with the design. I'd suggest most wouldn't be overly negative about the aesthetics of the City Rd and Balston proposals.

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Bilby's picture

That's a false dilemma, Mateusz - the options are not A. Massive, poorly designed tower in Southbank or B. Suburban stand alone housing development in Packenham. There are so many other ways to approach housing in Melbourne that your comments just sound overly simplistic in our current context.

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Mateusz Gwozdz's picture

My argument was intentionally simplistic.
So is saying I'd rather this tower in Southbank than the razing of 100 heritage homes in Brunswick to be replaced with low rise units.

Fact of the matter is, 90K or so extra people per year need to be housed somewhere. There simply isn't enough Brownfield development opportunities to satisfy the demand. Something has to give, whether it's pushing out the city's boundaries, increasing density middle band, or going up inner city.
Housing a thousand people 10 mins walk from the state's biggest employment centre is not a bad outcome.

Southbank could def be more pedestrian friendly though. Looking forward to that Southbank Boulevard development.

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Bilby's picture

- "There simply isn't enough Brownfield development opportunities to satisfy the demand."
What evidence do you have for this? I would venture to say that if all high-rise development ended tomorrow, Melbourne could easily find enough infill sites within a 10km radius of the GPO to supply all its housing needs. It is a matter of unlocking those sites, however - whether through more thoughtful zoning policies, developer contributions schemes that improve public amenity, or new planning controls that make such development more attractive. A quick glance at an aerial map of Melbourne demonstrates that we easily have enough land in non-sensitive areas and infill allotments to achieve the density we require - with or without high-rise packed in to Southbank. The ever diminishing returns in terms of urban amenity and sustainability there are now evident for all to see.

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Mateusz Gwozdz's picture

Consider that the entire Fishermand Bend precinct is projected to house a total of 80k people, including in the tall towers you seem to be steadfastly against. That is less than the annual population growth and the last inner city area prime for redevelopment. Add 8k at Egate, also predominantly in high rises. It will take roughly 40 years for these development areas to be complete.

We're left with the old defence land in marrybinong, which won't be high rise so will house significantly less than FB, and won't be ready for development for at least a decade.

What are you left with? Where do you plan to house the increased population in the near term?
State rail land adjacent to stations will only go so far.
What's your plan?

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Bilby's picture

You're thinking like a 1960s town planner, not a new urbanist. The Fisherman's Bend area is absolutely tiny in comparison with the tens of thousands of potential infill sites in inner Melbourne. They are literally everywhere - councils just need to do a full audit of (the non-heritage sensitive) underdeveloped land in their municipal boundaries - this would unlock all of the land we need for housing (to 6 storeys or so) in the foreseeable future. Pick a street or small precinct close to public transport at random in inner Melbourne and I'll show you a site suitable for development that won't unduly impact on amenity or heritage, while accomodating increased density.

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Mateusz Gwozdz's picture

You shed a tear every time a building more than 50 years old is razed or altered to make way for a residential development. I sympathise with your sentiment, but are you genuinely of the belief that you can house one million new people 'near transport' over the next ten years without impacting existing heritage or utilising high rise?

For every suburb like Kensington which is prime for medium density resi development, there is a Fitzroy and Carlton which has exhausted almost all potential development sites or never had a notable amount to begin with.
Build medium density apartments next to Eaglemont or Heyington station? Where exactly??

Neither you or I have dedicated the time to accurately asses what potential really exists for infill population growth. This article at least looks at some figures to show how far we are from fulfilling your suggestion, and how implausible it is.

It's not THE solution, but high rise development is an essential component of the solution to Melb's housing needs. You're misguided in your position against it.

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Bilby's picture

I have never argued that high rise is not an appropriate part of the mix (although as a typology, it is inherently less sustainable than other built forms - mainly because of the need for high-rise lifts and services, as well as ventilation and solar gain issues). You are incorrect to say that Fitzroy and Carlton have "exhausted almost all potential development sites" however. Just have a look at the areas along and just in behind Johnston Street between Brunswick and Smith Street as an example. These sites alone could accomodate thousands of new residents in the coming years - and Fitzroy is already the most densely populated inner city suburb. And as for Heyington station as an example - yes, there is scope there to go higher. Many heritage properties have already been flattened in Toorak - why not rezone the immediate area by the station for 6 storey apartments? That would unlock some of the low rise townhouse developments already there along Heyington Pl, and increase density more generally on non-heritage sensitive sites in the area - particularly along the rail line.

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johnproctor's picture

Pick a street or small precinct close to public transport at random in inner Melbourne and I'll show you a site suitable for development that won't unduly impact on amenity or heritage, while accomodating increased density.

Royal Park Station


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Bilby's picture

Ok - it depends how close is close, but there is definitely scope to go higher in places on The Avenue in Parkville.

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